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Archive for the ‘The NEVER List’ Category

Photo by Rex SorgatzOh soda. What is it about you that makes you so hard to give up?

I’ve had a few conversations with friends about the challenges of giving up soda. It’s so familiar, it’s such a part of our lives. What else would you drink with a burger? At the movies? For that afternoon pick-me-up? It’s so very much second-nature to grab a soda, order a soda with work lunch, pay for gas and get a cold one. It’s a habit, one that is tough to quit.

There’s something about that cold, sugar-sweet beverage. Do a search for “quitting soda” and you’ll get 280,000 results! People have different reasons for quitting soda and there are a lot of bad things in soda. Carbonated water, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, caffeine, flavorings, color…the list goes on.

There’s also the matter of soda being ubiquitous. Every other commercial on TV, signs in stores, vending machines, billboards, it’s availability at every turn, the list goes on. So, does it seem, do the soda marketing dollars.

So how do you quit? I quit soda once before for the year leading up to my son’s birth. It was easier that time because I was doing it for the health of my unborn child. This time I just have my health to do it for. Just my health. Come to think of it, that’s a pretty big important thing.

Photo by Tim NorrisSome people will tell you to wean yourself off soda, but I do better if I just cut the cord and go cold turkey. If I have one soda, then I start to feel bad about cheating and at the same time start working on convincing myself that if one was ok, then two wouldn’t be so bad… I recommend replacing soda with water. I like it very cold. I like it with lemon or lime. I also have some single serve drink mixes in my desk drawer at work for when I’m really craving something with flavor and there’s no fresh fruit around. The Crystal Light ones are pretty good. I do have a few Kool Aid tropical fruit punch singles too, for when it’s time to go hard-core. I’m not suggesting having these everyday, the ingredients in these are not exactly natural. But, at some point your going to crack and want a cold sugary soda. On that day, tear into your drink mix stash and feel good that you didn’t give into the soda temptation.

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When McDonalds first started running ads for its new Oatmeal I was skeptical and irritated at the price, which was above $3 in my area. I personally don’t eat oatmeal (more on that later), but my son LOVES oatmeal and I could see myself ordering this for him as a healthy alternative to the breakfast sandwich.

The New York Times Mark Bittman wrote this article. It spells out so much of what is offensive about McDonalds trying to ‘do us a healthy favor’ when they are doing just the opposite, tricking us into thinking they are healthy, when really they are poison. This part stood out to me:

“McDonald’s [oatmeal] contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin. (Even without the brown sugar it has more calories than a McDonald’s hamburger.)”

What the heck, McDonalds! You are rotten to the core. I guess that is how you got on the NAUGHTY NEVER list!

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A never list is a double-edged sword. In the past when I’ve tried to diet eat healthy I often create my own ‘never’ list. It’s easier for me to never have chips than to try to have a few and stop eating them. It’s easier for me to just know I can’t than to know I can within reason. I actually think the never list is easier than the once a week list. With the once a week list I have to be on the honor system with myself. I have to remember if I had dessert last Saturday, or was that Sunday? Am I in the clear to have it again or not? Or can I just cheat since it’s only one more day… But the never list. Well, never is a mighty long time.

Fast food: No matter how hard the Mc’s and the King’s try to convince us, we all know that stuff is bad. Tasty, but bad. It’s mass-produced, created with not nutritional value, but corporate bottom line in mind. I can avoid fast food. Where there’s a fast food restaurant, there’s usually a gas station or convenience store near by. And if you look hard enough in those places you can find granola bars, fresh fruit, yogurt, cheese, pretzels and bottled water. You can make a good lunch out of those things, and never ingest a fried or heat-lamped anything. I’m sure you have, but if you haven’t, be sure to watch Super Size Me. It’s not going to cure you of wanting fast food forever, but it sure will make you think.

Soda: Soda is bad stuff. Just google tooth in soda and you’ll see some nasty stuff. However, in my head, soda is linked to a lot of things. I really like a good cold fountain Coke at a restaurant. And it’s such a habit that sometimes I catch myself mindlessly ordering one and then have to take it back. In a store, it’s easy select 100% juice, or water, or tea. In the year before I had my son I gave up soda completely. I was trying to avoid all those chemicals and knew that since I wasn’t drinking soda I’d be drinking much more water and milk. The day my son was born they brought me a cup with ginger ale and chipped ice. It was amazing. Not as amazing as the birth of my son of course, but I do remember it quite well. Soda, you sure do make it tough on a girl.

Processed meals/frozen dinners: I talked about this one some before, but I do have to believe that there are exceptions to this one. I think if you do the work and find natural meals, without preservatives and other yucks, you can find good food that Alton would approve of. You’ve got to read the labels. Don’t eat anything that is cheap in price, cheaply made, or sold based on how stupidly heavy it is. I do think there are some companies out there that are elevating frozen meals. Kashi, evol, American Flatbread, they all seem to be doing it right.

Canned soup: I’m not a big fan of canned soup. If I’m really sick, I might seek out a traditional Campbell’s Chicken Noodle, but that’s about it. I know salt and MSG are two of the big problems with canned soup. The other is that it’s so dang easy to make your own soup. When you make your own soup, you can also add in so many of the items on the daily and three times a week list (barley, brown rice, leafy greens, carrots, fish, broccoli, sweet potato). Make 2 soups on the weekend and eat them all week-long for lunch.

“Diet” anything: This one I think is the easiest. I haven’t found anything yet that there isn’t a regular version of, and when there’s a regular version why or why would you want to eat the diet version?

 

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On Alton’s ‘NEVER’ list is “Processed meals/frozen dinners”. I get that. Alton doesn’t want us to eat Lunchables, or Hungry-Man dinners. They are full of…whoa! However, I am a working mom and sometimes you have to break the NEVER rule. I feel ok about it. Here’s one frozen line I think Alton would be ok with.

Kashi Frozen Meals

These all natural meals from the good people at Kashi are delicious, full of nutrition and sometimes even have KALE! Kashi’s tagline is 7 whole grains on a mission, so in each meal you get a delicious combination of tastes and textures, and that is just the base of the meal. The vegetables taste fresh, and there are unusual flavors you almost never find in a microwaveable meal.

The Lemongrass Coconut Chicken is really good, it’s kind of like a healthier version of what you might get at a Thai or Cambodian restaurant. I highly recommend it.

Today I ate the Mayan Harvest Bake for lunch. This has a polenta base made of their 7 whole grains mixture, plantains, sweet potato, black beans, kale and a mildly spicy sauce. It has a sweet/spicy flavor, with lots of texture and it makes for a quick, filling meal.

The best part about Kashi meals is that when you look up the ingredients, you don’t wince. In fact you maybe stand a little taller, knowing that you have just eaten really healthy, have checked a number of foods off the list (Everyday: Fruit, Whole Grains, Greens, Nuts; 3x: Sweet potato). Better yet, you recognize almost everything on the list. I’m not going to say that I knew what triticale was, but when I looked it up, I was pretty pleased with what I saw.

I think Alton would approve.

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