reducing the fat in my diet

One of my goals in December is to reduce the amount of fat in my diet.  The kind of fat I choose is also important.

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Canada’s Food Guide recommends 30 – 45 mL (2 to 3 Tbsp) per day of unsaturated oils and fats.  I can keep track of my servings of fat or I can watch the percentage of calories from fat using the pie-chart in the MyFitPal app.  http://www.myfitnesspal.com/

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I can also avoid saturated fats and focus on healthy fats.  The Dieticians of Canada says unsaturated fats are those in soft margarines, plant-based oils like olive oil, and some salad dressings.  Their website lists other sources of unsaturated fat – nuts, seeds, fatty fish like salmon and tuna, and avocado.  http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Fat.aspx?categoryID=19

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We use olive oil margarine and olive oil as our main sources of added fat.  I usually add margarine to foods like potatoes and rice because it tastes so good, so this will be one area where I practice restraint.  The main source of ‘bad’ fat in my diet is from fast food.  Even a baked potato becomes a caloric/saturated fat nightmare in some fast food choices.  We have tried to limit our fast food visits and, when we do go this route, asking for a plain baked potato and a pat of margarine is better than the bacon and cheese laden menu choice.

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So some guidelines for me to follow:

  1. continue to use olive oil and olive oil margarine to cook and flavour meals at home
  2. limit the addition of margarine to my dinner plate to 1 tbsp
  3. limit fast food visits to one per week
  4. order a plain baked potato or a salad with a low fat dressing if I choose fast food
  5. add good sources of fat to my diet, from fish, seeds, nuts and avocado – add them to the grocery list
  6. limit the amount of fats from nuts since these are high in calories

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fish

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Best always, Alexandra

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a healthy eating plan for me

My dietician has always encouraged me not to think in terms of following a ‘diet’.  Diets are somewhat defeatist.  They imply ‘temporary’, ‘drastic’ and (sometimes) ‘failure’.

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A better approach is to think in terms of a healthy eating plan that will last a lifetime.  I certainly like to keep track of what I eat, and a healthy eating plan gives me a guideline for comparison.

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I decided to design my own healthy eating plan.  I started by looking at Canada’s Food Guide to see how many calories I should eat per day.  Calorie intake varies by age, activity level, gender,  http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/basics-base/1_1_1-eng.php  For my age, and low active life style, the chart says I should use 1850 calories per day.  I know from tracking my calorie intake on MyFitnessPal‘  app on my Ipad (http://www.myfitnesspal.com/), I am maintaining my weight with about 2200 calories per day.   I have decided to base my healthy eating plan on about 2000 calories per day.

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In designing my plan, I want to include the following things I know about myself:

  • evening eating is a huge problem for me
  • I have trouble keeping my morning blood glucose levels in check and so evening eating has to be minimized
  • my dietician told me a snack in the afternoon will help me combat evening hunger
  • I find I have more energy when I include protein in my breakfast
  • I like to have a snack mid-morning
  • I am in good control of my eating for both breakfast and lunch
  • I often don’t get enough milk products during the day
  • I have trouble limiting portion sizes
  • ‘red light’ foods for me are ice-cream, chocolate, chips, and (!) Greek yogurt

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Breakfast – usually cereal with milk or toast

Breakfast
Food Group Number of servings Sample serving
Bread  2 ¾ cup cereal
Milk  1 1 c milk
Fat
Fruit  1 banana, apple, pear
Vegetables
Protein  1 2 tbsp peanut butter

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Lunch – I usually have leftovers from dinner, soup and toast, or a sandwich

Lunch
Food Group Number of servings Sample serving
Bread  2 1/2 hamburger bun
Milk
Fat  1 mayo
Fruit  1 ¼ c dried fruit; 20 grapes
Vegetables  1 sliced red pepper
Protein  1 ½ c tuna packed in water

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Dinner – we have a healthy meal with potato, meat or fish, lots of vegetables and fruit for dessert.  At least once a week we have chili (good-for-us tomatoes and high fibre) or a salad-as-dinner  (green vegetables and fibre)

Dinner
Food Group Number of servings Sample serving
Bread  2 ½ cup canned corn, small potato
Milk
Fat  1 1 tsp olive oil margarine
Fruit  1 1/2 cup canned fruit
Vegetables  3 1 c lettuce, ½ c brussels sprouts
Protein  1 chicken breast; ¾ c beans

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Snacks – for me, a good snack is yogurt and crackers, a smoothie made with milk and fruit, crackers and cheese, or vegetable sticks

For my three daily snacks, I can choose from A, B,  or C:

Evening Snack A B C
Food Group Number of servings Sample serving
Bread  1 7 crackers
Milk  1  1 8 oz milk, 1 ¼ inch cube cheese,   yogurt
Fat  1 salad dressing
Fruit  1  1 1 cup strawberries; 20 cherries
Vegetables  1 1 carrot, ½ c broccoli
Protein

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Please note: my serving sizes may not be exact; for serving sizes, see Canada’s Food Guide (for example: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/choose-choix/fruit/serving-portion-eng.php)

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To summarize, this is my healthy eating plan for one day (approximately 2000 calories):

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Healthy Eating Plan Meals Snacks
Food Group Total Number of servings Breakfast Lunch Supper A B C
Bread  7  2  2  2  1
Milk  3  1  1  1
Fat  3  1  1  1
Fruit  5  1  1  1  1  1
Vegetables  5  1  3  1
Protein  3  1  1  1

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Best always, Alexandra

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eating more fish – results

In January, I set a goal to include more fish in my diet …

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I did fairly well, eating fish eight times during the four weeks.  I also ordered fish when I went to a restaurant during the month.

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We tried a couple of recipes.  The Hearty Salmon Chowder is always good.  The Tuna-Kidney Bean Salad was a bit bland for my liking – good ingredients could be improved with some mayo.

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The path to wellness is never easy and I discovered that I have to modify my enthusiasm sometimes … eating more fish than usual gave me a flare-up of gout.  Gout is caused by a build-up of uric acid in the blood and results in attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis.  In my case, the joints of my toes become inflamed and sore.  Sources say fish can cause a flare-up.  I also have had gout attacks from eating asparagus.

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I intend to keep eating fish, just in moderation.  From this adventure with eating fish, I have discovered:

  • a better diet begins with the grocery store
  • use ‘eating out’ as a way to make better eating choices

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Best Always, Alexandra

fish

eating more fish – update

Two weeks ago, I pledged to eat include more fish in my diet for the next month.  I thought I’d do a mid-goal review of how I am doing.

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fish

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For the first two weeks, I have included fish in my meals more often (at least twice a week).  We’ve bought more fish than usual at the grocery store and tried some new recipes.

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I went out with friends last evening and took a different approach to ordering in keeping with my goal.  Usually, I order some sort of chicken dish.  Last evening I had a good look at the fish menu choices and picked the ‘Arctic Char’.  To quote the menu: ‘a Nova Scotia fish to fall in love with, seasoned Cajun style and dressed with a citrus hollandaise sauce serve with charbroiled carrots, zucchini and rice pilaf’.

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Well, I am so glad I tried something different!  The Arctic Char was so good, similar to salmon.  Delicate taste, no bones and so good with the charbroiled carrots!  I went away from the table feeling satisfied but not over-stuffed! This is a good choice from an environmental point of view too since Arctic Char is a sustainably farmed fish.

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My learning from my fish-eating challenge so far …

♦ to try something new when I go out to eat – a great way to increase the fish in my diet

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Best always, Alexandra

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eating more fish

I know from my reading – including fish in my diet would help me in my quest for wellness.  Fish is low in fat, high in protein and a source of omega 3 fatty acids.

Omega 3 fatty acids are healthy fats with many health benefits, including reducing risk of heart disease and promoting healthy brain, eye and nerve function.

At the present time, my consumption of fish is lower than ever before. To some extent this is a taste issue, but I love tuna and salmon.  Our current method of grocery shopping may be at fault – my husband only buys what’s on the list and I often keep the list short to avoid having to carry in a lot of groceries.  In any case, the key to increasing fish in our diet is simply adding fish to the grocery list.  If it’s in the cupboard or refrigerator, it will get cooked and eaten.

fish

I’d also like to use eating out as an opportunity to try new fish and fish dishes.

Goal # 10: To increase the amount of fish in my diet to (at least) two servings per week.

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The chowder recipe I’ve included in the worksheet is one I’ve tried before and liked.  I used cooked salmon, but canned salmon should work well too.  If you try it, let me know what you think.

Best always, Alexandra

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increasing my potassium intake -results

Over the last two weeks, I have been monitoring my potassium intake, trying to understand how to increase it to a healthy level.  I have learned that many of the foods I normally eat are low in potassium.

During the 8 days I kept track of potassium, I tried to purchase and eat foods I know have lots of potassium.  Orange foods, such as apricots and cantaloupe, are generally potassium rich, so I made sure they were in my grocery order.

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As you can see, I increased my potassium intake but never achieved the minimum of 3500 mg/day.  That means I have to always be mindful of what I am eating to keep my intake anywhere near what it should be.  I realise having raisin bran and milk is a good breakfast, better than the toast and jam I sometimes have.  I am also going to continue to include cantaloupe and apricots as a regular part of my grocery order.  Grapes, bananas and nuts are also great choices!!!

Best always, Alexandra

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increasing my potassium intake

When I have a detailed look at my food record, I see that I am rarely getting the recommended amount of potassium during the day (although there is no specific daily recommendation, I have see values ranging from 3500-4700 mg per day).

choose foods rich in Potassium (K)
choose foods rich in Potassium (K)

Potassium (chemical symbol ‘K’) is a mineral required by the body.  The  Dieticians of Canada (http://www.dietitians.ca/Nutrition-Resources-A-Z/Factsheets/Minerals/Functions-and-Food-Sources-of-Common-Minerals.aspx) list the befits of Potassium:

  1. regulates blood pressure ( I take medications to control high blood pressure)
  2. keeps fluids balanced between tissues and blood
  3. allows nerves and muscles to work together

what did I eat?
what foods do I need to eat to increase my Potassium???

Since the body does not manufacture Potassium, it needs to obtain Potassium from the food we eat.

Foods rich in Potassium include:

  • bananas, papaya, sweet potato
  • dark leafy greens
  • avocado
  • prune juice, tomato juice, orange juice
  • milk, yogurt
  • dried beans such as navy, pinto and black beans, chickpeas, lentils
  • beef, pork, fish
  • nuts and seeds

Think ORANGE – oranges, cantaloupe, apricots, peaches, sweet potato!!!

So, in order to increase the Potassium in my diet, I am going to do the following:

  1. put sweet potato, cantaloupe, dried apricots, spinach, avocado, prune juice and sunflower seeds on my shopping list
  2. have an occasional banana (my husband likes bananas and we always have them on hand)
  3. continue to include nuts as a source of protein in my breakfast
  4. report on my daily potassium intake for one week (to keep track, I use MyFitnessPal‘  (http://www.myfitnesspal.com/).

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Best always, Alexandra

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protein for breakfast – results

Increasing the amount of protein I am eating for breakfast turned out to be an easy challenge.  I like to be told I have to eat something.  I looked forward to adding a scoop of almonds to my cereal, and eating Greek yogurt is never a hardship!  During this time, I think I tended to eat less later in the day and this could be due to feeling less hungry as a result of protein intake with breakfast.

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Best always (and Merry Christmas!!!!)

Alexandra

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protein for breakfast

Another short-term goal!

Goal #8: To eat a serving of protein with breakfast each morning.

I always eat breakfast.  I usually have toast or cereal, milk, and fruit.  Sometimes I have protein.  Sometimes just carbohydrates ….

I know that adding protein to my diet early in the day helps get my metabolism going, and provides the building blocks for muscle.  It also gives me energy and makes me feel full for longer.

I have to take some cautions with proteins since I have gout.  Too much protein can aggravate this condition.  A flare-up for me means very painful toes for a few days.

Examples of protein for breakfast:

  • peanut butter
  • Greek yogurt
  • kippered snacks (my Dad often ate fish with breakfast)
  • almonds or other tree nuts
  • cottage cheese
  • eggs ( usually in an omelet with red peppers and onions)

Here is the scrapbook page I will use to keep track of my progress:

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Do you eat protein with your breakfast???

Best always, Alexandra

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drinking water for health – results

This week I kept track of the amount of fluids I drink during the day.

I learned:

  • I need to drink more milk
  • I need to remind myself to drink water, especially early in the day
  • I usually add some lime juice to my water (makes it taste better)
  • I had a hard time staying away from soft drinks but overall I did well
  • I drank juice every day, but in small quantities
  • I do not drink tea every day

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Best always, Alexandra

drinking water