For all of you guys that are in the US, Happy Thanksgiving, for all of you who aren’t? If you celebrate it I give you the same sentiment. If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving (hereafter referred to as Turkey Day) I feel that I must explain my problem with it.
Here in these Grand Old United States, Thanksgiving (and, if you’re like me Christmas too), are food holidays. There’s very little healthy food prepared. So you’re looking at multiple pies, green bean casserole, and starches galore. So, naturally I’m terrified of gaining weight or backtracking during the holidays.
If you’ve ever heard of the ‘Freshman Fifteen’ (it’s a thing some people experience in college, meaning they gain weight because of a variety of reasons in their first year of college), think of Thanksgiving and Christmas like the ‘Holiday Fifteen,’ because after you’ve stuffed yourself with all the yummy food? You usually have to get through eating the leftovers. And please trust. There are ALWAYS leftovers.
My solution (for keeping on track and in general)? Food prep and making sure I make ‘healthy’ choices.
I talked about food in the first post but I wanted to go into a bit more detail in this post. I apologize for any repetitive content.
When I started changing my lifestyle, as stated in chapter one, I really cleaned up how I ate. This in itself was a challenge for me because I was a notoriously picky eater. However, my sister moved in for almost eight months and got me to learn to love things like peppers, spinach leaves, other veggies, and find ways to eat broccoli (however I still refuse brussel sprouts, peas, green beans or asparagus). It’s really hard to eat clean when no one else in your household is doing it. It sucks when you look in the pantry or the fridge and see nothing but junk.
So, in order to avoid temptation, I started to do meal prep.
Meal prep has been a lifesaver. Once a week I make a few dishes that are easy (and taste good) to reheat. When you have a bad relationship with food, which is another post for another time, like I do? Meal prep cuts out a lot of the ‘what am I gonna eat today and is it healthy’ stress.
There are two things that I make every week: one is a veggie pasta (the pasta is made from veggies) with garlic, onions, red/orange/yellow/green peppers. spinach leaves, a tiny bit of parmesan, and a low sodium red sauce. The other is a heart healthy chili. I make it with either turkey or chicken plus sodium free beef bullion, red/orange/yellow/green peppers, onions, chili powder, low sodium/no sodium tomato sauce, dark kidney beans, light kidney beans, and, occasionally, garlic.
It takes a day to do (especially since the chili has to sit for a few hours) and I normally do it on Mondays. The chili lasts for four to five meals and the pasta usually makes it through three. Having these options makes it easy for me to heat up a meal when I’m busy AND make better choices throughout the week.
On top of that, I make a loose schedule of what I may want to eat that week. I’m not fond of a schedule or being told what to do, which is ironic since I like to plan things a LOT. However, that loose schedule keeps my grocery bill low and gives me a bit of freedom.
I do not prepare my chicken breast, if that’s part of my meal that day, because it dries out in the fridge. I’ve had a lot of people tell me to slow cook it in a crock pot, but I prefer to grill it. Personally I try to keep the sodium in my diet to a minimum so to season the chicken breast I use Mrs. Dash Salt Free Table Blend or lemons, among other natural flavors. Learning to do natural seasonings has been a lifesaver.
There are also a lot of substitutions I’ve made. If I eat bread* I eat an all natural whole wheat/multigrain bread. If I’m feeling like eating fries, I bake spicy sweet potato fries and sometimes I bake breaded chicken tenders. I don’t fry them**. I don’t eat a lot of fried foods. I’ve severely limited my mac&cheese, which is one of my favorite foods, and, if I eat hotdogs I eat low sodium turkey dogs without buns. I also eat grilled fish and shrimp. While I love steak, I try not to eat a lot of red meat. Instead of eating white rice, I eat brown rice. If I crave chips I eat mozzarella cheese sticks, popcorn (popped on the stove at home so I can control what goes in it and on it), nuts, or granola bars. If I’m craving something sweet I eat fruit, dark chocolate covered almonds, and greek yogurt. Occasionally I still have some chocolate, but it’s usually dark chocolate with very little sugar added.
I do have one cheat day a week. I don’t go overboard. I tend to stay away from fast food. On those cheat days I have something like shrimp alfredo, because I think some things are sacred and shouldn’t ever be made by substituting things to make them ‘low fat’ or ‘healthy.’ I feel the same way about cheesecake.
I gave up coffee for the most part, though a friend introduced me to cold brew and I have one of those when I need a bit more energy. There’s also a Tea in the Monster Energy Drink line. It’s not carbonated, it doesn’t have a lot of sugar, and occasionally I’ll have one to give me an extra kick of energy for the day.
I’m doing this one day at a time and, admittedly, there are a lot of hard days. But I’ve come so far and I’m not stopping now. When it gets super hard I remind myself of how it felt when I went to my doctor in October and she told me I’d lost a total of 69 lbs.
Do you do meal plans or food prep? If so share in the comments below. I’d love some new recipes and, let me know if you want mine. 🙂
❤ Lady Lynx
*I don’t eat a lot of bread anymore since bread can be very difficult for me to handle mentally and I tend to restrict myself if I have any. Though, if I’m eating Subway it doesn’t bother me for some reason or a roll at one of my fave restaurants. I eat as little as possible of it.
**Fried food makes me feel yucky.