There are a lot of ways I could blame my eating habits on other people: My Mennonite grandmother, for instance, thinks mayonnaise is an acceptable topping on salads; the highlight of my family reunions is the chocolate buffet to which everyone contributes; a classic dinner growing up was “Chunky soup and rice,” for which one only has to heat up a can of Campbell’s Chunky soup and pour it, drained, over a cup of Uncle Ben’s.
Doctors’ orders: You can get healthier right now, yes you can. Take these suggestions from local medical professionals.
Change of heart: Slender, active and young, Scheline Crutchfield doesn’t seem like she’d have problems with her ticker.
But, if I were to fail at this assignment—28 days of following a “reduced fat, high fiber, controlled carbohydrate” menu—I would have only myself to blame. The menu, which itself is more a guidebook for eating healthy than it is a meal plan, was meant to both increase my energy and lower my weight, two concerns, says Martha Jefferson dietitian Rita Smith, that are common among women in their mid-20s, like me.
The sample menu Smith provided calls for starch, protein and fruit at breakfast; a low-calorie snack around 10am; protein, starch, vegetables and dairy for lunch; another snack in the afternoon; protein, starch, vegetables and dairy again for dinner and another snack before bed. The plan also suggested I exercise for at least 30 minutes per day and drink calorie-free beverages.
For those following along at home, I documented my journey. Of course, it wasn’t constantly captivating, so I’ve edited it here and there. Overall, breakfast was the easiest part of the plan to adhere to every day (though I wonder if stockpiling all my required nutrition first thing in the morning—a full day’s serving of vegetables and fruits by 10am, for instance—could be considered cheating). And dinner wasn’t so difficult either; all the energy-increasing food helped me stay up at least four hours after eating, which Smith recommended. As for her suggested 30 minutes of exercise each day, I’ll admit I was not eagerly anticipating that part of the plan. A very short (read: six minutes) run around my block nearly made me pass out, but I suspect my 10-minute walks to and from work each day make up for my distinterest in jogging.
In the end, I dropped six pounds and no longer feel the need to linger in bed each morning. And I must admit that homemade springrolls, once you can figure out how to make them, beats Chunky soup. Just sayin’.
For breakfast, a granola bar, apple, string cheese, coffee, water. This is a very good start.
For dinner, onion rings at Shebeen, one beer. Crap.
For breakfast, granola bar, apple, carrots, string cheese. Now that’s a balanced meal!
For lunch, spinach and mushroom pizza pie from Christian’s, water. Wonder if it’s O.K. to eat pizza if the toppings are sort of like health food.
For lunch, salad bar (lettuce, tomato, cabbage, snap peas, bean sprouts, chick peas, cucumbers, mushrooms, sunflower seeds) from the Country Store, wheat berry salad, water.
For dinner, grilled turkey sandwich with tomato, provolone, spicy mayo, kettle-cooked potato chips, slice of cake, glass of V8. Really starting to feel energized by these healthy choices, but decide to stop eating meat. Drop two pounds in what feels like 24 hours.
For breakfast, apple, Pop-tarts. Ran out of granola bars and string cheese. Feel like Pop-tarts sit in my stomach all day until dinner.
For dinner, baby greens salad, dressing on the side from Rapture. Read once that dipping salad into dressing controls how much is consumed. Hope it’s true.
For breakfast, two apples, one poppyseed scone, medium skim iced latte. A bit too much sugar first thing in the morning.
For dinner, Pad Thai with tofu, iced tea. Fried tofu tastes like sponges. (…Somewhere, a vegetarian is crying.)
For breakfast, Pop-tart, two bananas, coffee, Gatorade, cottage cheese. Halfway finished (halfway begun?). Are my love handles shrinking?
For dinner, sushi. I don’t care what anyone says—mango, banana and kiwi are not meant to be wrapped in rice and seaweed. On the plus side, the miso appetizer was delicious.
For breakfast, two bananas, cottage cheese, coffee. Starting to notice my appetite decreasing. Hope I’m hungry for lunch.
For dinner, seven large shrimp with cocktail sauce from The Local, two beers, oatmeal. One of these things is not like the others. Maybe oatmeal counts as pre-bedtime “snack.”
For breakfast, cottage cheese, two carrot sticks, banana, coffee. Coworker says, “What’s up, Caite?” as I walk by. No more whole carrots for breakfast.
For dinner, fresh, homemade spring rolls with shrimp, strawberry shortcake, glass of white wine. Surprisingly easy to create a tasty spring roll from the comfort of my kitchen—and healthy, too!
For breakfast, oatmeal with fresh strawberries and bananas, coffee. Somehow, adding fresh fruit to oatmeal feels decadent.
For lunch, salad bar. See Day 4.
For dinner, gemelli pasta with fresh tomato sauce, glass of red wine. And, done.