Monday, February 21, 2011

What to eat?

Someone asked me, "I know you have to cook for 12 children, so what kinds of things do you eat throughout the day to fuel your running and at the same time maintain your weight loss?"

Let me say right off that I don't like to cook. Maybe I would if I had more free time during the day, but between Josh and our 12 kids, my job (I work from home), running, laundry and chores, homework, etc. etc. etc. there just isn't a lot of time left to cook. If I could wave a magic wand three times a day and have food appear on the table like it does at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies, I would be all over it.

I do usually eat different foods than what I feed the kids (they almost never have anything left over!), although on weekends we usually all eat the same dinners. For the kids I typically make big batches of filling, kid-friendly food like enchilladas, pasta dishes, dirty potatoes, tacos, chili, lasagna, etc. I do serve at least one fruit and/or veggie at every meal for them and all of my kids are pretty good eaters.

Throughout my journey of trying to be healthier, I discovered that eating 'better" has as much to do with what you DO eat as it does with what you don't. I think that when people think about dieting and eating healthy they often think of all the stuff they "can't" or "won't" eat. Once I focused on what I could and should eat, I found I wasn't hungry and it was a lot more positive outlook.

I also don't count calories (I know that is blasphemy in some circles but I just don't). I do read labels and am very aware of the calories, fat, etc. in the foods that I eat and use that info to make good choices, but I don't count or tally my calories. I do stick to "serving sizes" on packages for snacks, etc. but I couldn't tell you how many calories I eat in a day.

Here are some things that I eat regularly now that I almost never ate before -
Lots of fruits (easily 4-6 servings a day), especially berries. LOVE them. They are one of my favorite "new foods"
Lots of veggies (again, easily 4-6 servings a day). I am quite sure that just over two years ago there were times that I went at least several days without eating a single vegetable. Seriously. Spinach is one of my favorites right now, either fresh or sauteed in a pan with a tiny drip of olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
beans - I love them in rice or in chili. They are so versatile and tasty.
yogurt (usually Greek, often with berries)
whole grains (pastas, breads, brown rice, etc.)
fish (everything from canned tuna to fresh salmon)
hummus (really, really good) I love to put hummus and tomato in a whole wheat tortilla and grill it like a quesadilla.
sweet potatoes and regular potatoes (ok, so I always ate lots of "brown" potatoes, although now I am baking them instead of frying or mashing with butter. I love my baked "brown" potatoes with some salsa on top or some broccoli and cheese, and a baked sweet potato is perfect with a little cinnamon).
popcorn - Again, I always have loved popcorn but now I have a healthier alternative. I love the Smartpop 100 calories bags. They are one of my favorite snacks.
gum - Ok, so I don't eat gum, but I chew it a lot. I found that sometimes I just want something in my mouth, and having something that tastes sweet and keeps my mouth busy keeps me from eating when I don't want or need to.

I also drink lots of water (instead of can after can after can after can after can after can of diet soda... I never drink diet soda now. On the very rare occasion I have soda for a treat, I have the real deal).

Here is everything that I ate yesterday to give you an idea of a typical eating day for me.

During my early-morning 19 mile run on the treadmill - four Hammer gels and 22 ounces of Hammer HEED drink

Breakfast - a large glass of chocolate milk (1% milk and Ovaltine) and my breakfast of champions (loaded oatmeal). Seriously I have this for breakfast 99 days out of 100. I crave it.

Snack - 1 orange, half of a green apple, and 1 serving of organic, whole grain pretzel sticks

Lunch - a whole wheat bagel with turkey, cream cheese, lettuce and tomato (I ate the whole tomato) and a big side of sauteed spinach.

Snack - I bag (100 calories) of Smartpop Kettle Corn popcorn with a handful or two of Cocoa Puffs thrown in. This is a "revamp" of my old favorite - double buttered movie popcorn with a bag of M&Ms thrown in. The new version of this snack has under 200 calories and is a big bowl of snack that takes a long time to eat and is super satisfying. I love salty and sweet together. :)

Dinner - Josh made a huge "vat" of sliced potatoes and baked them, and we topped them with canned tomatoes, diced peppers, seasoning and a little cheddar cheese.

I had one chocolate sandwich cookie that Amanda shared with me, and then I was done eating for the day. I sipped on my water bottle filled with Banana flavored Nuun all day and refilled that quite a few times.

And that is a pretty typical food day for me. Besides my breakfast I do mix things up a lot and am always looking for new ideas so if you have a favorite healthy meal or snack, please leave a comment. :)

What's your favorite stuff to eat?


ShreddingIt said...

I love oatmeal, eggs, veggie straws, honey maid crackers, 100 calorie healthy helpings cookie bags, sugar free jello. smart pop popcorn,

Anonymous said...

I've lost almost 50 lbs. and feel great. One of my favorite things to eat is broccoli sauteed in a little olive oil and salt. It tastes kind of nutty and is very satisfying. My kids love this too! Robin


You eat in a way that I dream of. Great job!

I could eat avocado every day. And hard boiled eggs. Love them!

Cari said...

I just found your blog and I'm loving it!!! I am training for my first half and whenever I think I don't have the time or energy to run I think of you. I only have 1 child, so I tell myself "if someone with 12 kids can do it, then so can I". :)

I tried your oatmeal concoction and love it! I eat it after my runs now too. I also drink this shake/smoothie thing that sounds really gross, but if you give it a try you'll love it!

1 cup orange juice
2 cups raw spinach
1 cup kale
blend until smooth
1 banana
1/2 cup frozen berries (I use the bag from Costco with raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
add a little ice and blend until smooth

(this makes about 2 servings)
Kale is so good for you (it even has a small amount of protein) and it's hard to find a way to fit in all those leafy greens, so this really helps. Also my 2 year old loves it and drinks it every day with me.

Terzah said...

Erin, I too eat a version of loaded oatmeal. Other favorite healthy things include: my husband's homemade wheat sandwich bread (he likes to bake, so we almost never buy bread at the store); lentil soup (tastes like a healthier version of Indian daal); and low-sodium V8 juice (gets some veggies in easy and early).

Caroline said...

I think spinach is the gateway drug to dark, leafy greens! I would definitely try kale, chard, and broccoli rabe and see if you like those as well-- more flavorful and vary the nutrients a bit. I'm also a huge fan of roasted veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, brussells sprouts). You just toss them in olive oil and could throw them in when you are baking a potato. I also like to eat a variety of grains and sometimes make "kitchen sink" salads with a base of quinoa or barley or wheat berries, tons of veggies, homemade dressing, chopped fruit, seeds, and feta cheese. Yum! Running really does make the body crave healthy foods (and the occasional treat!).

As for treats, I bake my own, always using 100% whole wheat or other whole grain flour and honey or maple for the sweetner. Since I bake myself, I can cut back on the sweetners a bit. I also add flax to my baked goods to make them a bit healthier. My kids don't know any other versions of their favorites, so they love mine:)