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

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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keeping track

I am convinced, one of the best aids to aiming for wellness is ‘keeping track’.  This includes keeping a record of my weight and daily exercise.  It also includes making a list of what I have eaten during the day.

At the present time, I am using the food and exercise records in the MyFitnessPal‘  app on my Ipad (http://www.myfitnesspal.com/).

In the past, I have used other ways of keeping track of my daily eating.  I thought I’d share a few of these.  Perhaps one will work for you!

For almost a year, I kept track using index cards.  On one side, I fixed a label printed from my computer.  On the other side, I recorded my food choices for each meal.

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For a pdf file of the labels I used, click here: dietlabels

For a while, I used a small booklet of ‘strips’ showing the various food groups and checkboxes to keep track.  I used my own ‘diet’ of 5 servings of vegetables, 5 of fruit, three of meat and fish, 3 of milk and milk products, 5 of grains, 3 of fat and 8 of water.  To make the booklet, I cut strips from a printed sheet (see the pdf file below) and stapled them together.

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a booklet of strips for keeping track of the day’s food groups

For a pdf file of the strips, click here: food journal

Sometimes, just to bring myself under control, I have taken a rather manic approach to food and activity journaling.  For example, here is a week-end journal I used for a while a few years ago.

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a sheet to help keep track of eating on the weekend

Have fun using any of these food diary ideas, or invent one of your own.  Keeping track works!!!!

Best always, Alexandra 

what did I eat?

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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increasing fruit and vegetables in my diet – results

After five days of tracking my intake of fruits and vegetables, I have discovered getting enough servings in these two food groups can be hard!

I did a few things to increase the availability of fruit and vegetables in our home.  First, I went grocery shopping for vegetables since we never seem to have enough choices.  I bought carrots, kale, snow peas and broccoli.  Then, I filled a fruit bowl in the living room so I would see apples and bananas when I felt the urge to eat.

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Most days, I ate enough fruit and vegetables but it was a challenge.

Foods from these groups make great snack foods!

It is a novelty for me to have to eat something.  Usually I am trying to avoid eating.

Last night, we tried kale chips for the first time. My husband was not a fan, but I thought they were crispy and flavorful!

Best always, Alexandra

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