Healthy Relationship with Food–5 Concepts

Over the last 5-7 years I have accumulated many concepts, theories, ideas, and tips about having a healthy relationship with food. I have tried different techniques and my weight has fluctuated throughout these years. I spent about 6 months of this time practicing veganism, have loosely followed Weight Watchers, have made countless trips to many different health food stores all over the tri-state area, and have read hundreds of articles and books on this topic. Food is a big part of my life so I am thrilled to say that I think I have finally developed a healthy relationship with my diet.

I started to write a very detailed post about this and realized that I would need to publish my own book in order to fully explain everything in detail, so… I revamped my plan for the post and decided to share with you my 5 top concepts (along with brief details about each) and my favorite book about food! Many of this author’s beliefs run parallel to my beliefs on this topic, so I wanted to share this excellent source of reference with all my readers!

I am not claiming that these concepts are going to help you lose weight; they are merely theories that help me maintain my healthy relationship with food. They work for me so I wanted to share them with you…

Concept #1: Do the best you can with what you have

In my euphoria, I would have a Whole Foods Market down the street from my home and all the prices would be within my budget. I would walk through the store putting all the healthiest of foods into my cart from all the food groups! This is not reality for me…

My reality is that the closest Whole Foods Market is 1.25 hours away and I have a budget of $100-$125 per week to spend on groceries. Should I exceed that budget, other parts of balanced life are disturbed in ways I can’t afford so I have to do the best I can with what I have. I visit Shop Rite once per week with a planned schedule of meals. I look at all of the products on the shelves, in each section of the market, and choose the most “whole” product I can afford. (whole: least processed, least unnecessary ingredients, most organic) I use the dirty dozen rule for produce and to buy the products we consume most in their organic variety.

Everyone’s budget is different and some people will say “health is worth the extra money.” I have considered this when creating my budget and I agree that health is very important but balance has to rule over all in my world. Doing the best you can has to be enough.

Concept #2: Be real and honest with yourself

Eating highly processed, sugary candy is not a healthy choice but let’s be real…every time, for the rest of your life, when someone offers you a handful of M & M’s, you are not going to say “no.” If someone in the morning offers you a handful of M & M’s and you say “yes”, then later in the evening, when your neighbor brings over a huge slice of leftover birthday cake, you should at least consider putting it in a pyrex and sharing it with your husband the next day.

If you eat the M & M’s (or even the M & M’s AND the cake, because let’s be real, this stuff happens), don’t lie to yourself that this was healthy or that you didn’t eat them. Take responsibility for your decision and make your next decision based on what you have learned. Say to yourself, “tomorrow I will try to practice a little more discipline.”

Your relationship with food is just like any other relationship in your life, it is not perfect and honesty is a MUST. Apologize for small mistakes, try REALLY hard not to repeat the big mistakes (eating an entire bag of chips in one sitting), and continue in your relationship with no regrets.

Concept #3: Do not monitor what you eat on a holiday

On the day of the holiday, I think you should shove your face with whatever it is you want to shove it with. This is when the “life’s too short” philosophy comes into play. You can’t say “life’s too short” every day or you would be unhealthy but there are few enough holidays in the year that you should be able to fully indulge on those few days. I think that these are the happiest days of the whole year and on these days I don’t want to be in a fight with food; I want to be on great terms within my relationship with food on the holidays.

The hard part comes on the days surrounding the holiday… Examples: The day after Halloween, you can’t eat your kid’s candy all day and the day after Thanksgiving, the leftovers need to be portioned like you would portion on any normal day.

Deal?

Concept #4: Cook and prepare food in your home as much as possible

Cooking is like playtime with food. It is your time to bond and be intimate. Not everyone likes cooking/prepping but it is crucial for a healthy food relationship. (see my subtle metaphor?) Cooking your own meals and packing your own lunches are the only ways to know exactly what you are eating. Cooking, to me, means preparing anything from a salad to a full course meal like Thanksgiving dinner. I consider rinsing the grapes in a colander and putting them into containers for the week a part of my food prep/cooking on Sunday’s when I get home from the market.

Baking is nice too, once in a while; if you make a batch of 24 cupcakes, you better eat at least one but share many. Bring some to your neighbors or to work.

Cooking dinner and eating in your home, as a family, is a good thing to do. Packing balanced lunches for your kids, your husband or wife, yourself, and other household members, is a good thing to do too. It will make you all healthy, happy, and proud thus enhancing all of your relationships with food.

Concept #5: Record your meals/servings

I like to use Weight Watcher’s PointsPlus system to keep from overeating or eating too much of the wrong type of foods.

*More info on WW: Basically, each food has a PointsPlus value that is calculated depending on the amount of protein, fat, carb, and fiber that is in the item. The higher the protein and fiber content, the lower the points but the higher the carb and fat content, the higher the points. You are not to avoid fat or carbs all together but your choices should reflect the concept of consuming each type of food in moderation. Depending on your size, you are designated a correlated points allowance. If you are specifically interested in this program I suggest you register for the minimum amount of time (online) and learn about the program/how you specifically fit into the program. You can always cancel your membership once you feel like you have obtained some knowledge and can move forward on your own. If staying in the program works for you, thats great too! You can utilize the techniques whether or not you are enrolled. WW TIP: You can Google “WW Points Plus calculator” right on your smartphone if you don’t have your WW calculator on hand.

I try to plan my day’s worth of points in the morning, leaving a few points in case of an unanticipated food offering or opportunity (like the M & M incident detailed above). I like to write down my meals, the approximate points, and the number of servings of each food group in the meal to keep a balance. I try to keep up with this, especially after I have a few days of getting “carried away” (a few days in a row of not using great discipline). *Exception: I don’t record on holidays.

If you are uninterested in using Weight Watchers that is okay too; WW is just my preference. Whatever you come up with to help you with self control and portion control will do the same for you as this concept does for me.

And now, onto my favorite food book…drum roll please…

Food Rules by Michael Pollan

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The link above is to Michael Pollan’s website. If you are interested in his point of view, you should read some of the articles on this site too. This book is an incredible reference for when you are feeling frustrated with all the food buzz on the news and in the media. It helps you get back to basics! He actually just came out with a cookbook too. To purchase “Food Rules”, click here and to purchase his new cookbook called “Cooked”, click here.

Yay, I am so excited to have this all in writing for you!! Please comment with any questions or thoughts and try some of my recipes!

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Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot and Chicken Broth from scratch

Okay, so this is the best thing ever…

I have been doing this for a while now and my hubby loves me a full 10% more than he would had I not figured this out!

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole organic chicken
  • paprika (About 1 tsp)
  • garlic salt (About 1 tsp)
  • pepper (a few shakes)
  • 3.5 cups of water (for step 2)

Directions:

Step 1 is to make the Chicken itself and step 2 is for an amazing organic broth!

Step 1: Remove the “guts” from inside your chicken and rinse him off in cool water for a few seconds. Sit the chicken in the crock pot and sprinkle him with your seasonings. Let him cook for about 7 hours on low or 5 on high and you have yourself a beautiful chicken! Remove the meat from the carcass but DON’T THROW THE CARCASS AWAY. Keep your carcass in the Crock Pot with the amazing juices for step 2.

Step 2: Add 3.5  cups of water to the juices and carcass. Cook on low overnight or for another 7 hours, strain and contain! Refrigerate your broth and scoop off the layer of fat from the top before you use it.

*If you are going to freeze the broth, first refrigerate it, then remove the fat layer, then freeze!
**I often cook this chicken on a Monday so we have the meat for sandwiches for the week (better than lunch meat for your bod) and I use the broth on Tuesday for soup!

Every 1 ounce of this chicken is worth Weight Watchers Points Plus Value: 1 ; One serving is 4 ounces : Weight Watchers Points Plus Value: 4

Italian Wedding Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound ground meat (I use chicken breast)
  • 1 egg
  • 4 tbs dry whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbs grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra to sprinkle on top)
  • 1 tsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 6 cups of chicken broth (homemade is the best!)
  • 2 cups of slices escarole
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo
  • 1/3 cup of chopped carrot
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Put chicken broth on the stove in a large pot and cover. In a big bowl combine meat, egg, crumbs, cheese, italian seasoning, onion powder, and garlic powder; mix with your hands and form tiny meatballs. Once the broth starts to boil, add the meatballs (one at a time) followed by the escarole, carrots, and pasta. Gently stir and cook on medium high until pasta is al dente. Take a meat ball out, cut it in half. The meatball should be cooked through (if not, cook a little while longer). Serve with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Enjoy!

This soup is all of your food groups in one bowl! It is so adorable with the meatballs! The escarole is high in vitamin A (good for healthy vision) and C (good for skin and immunity). The chicken broth I make is full of minerals from the chicken bones like calcium and magnesium! I like to eat this alongside the Bulgar Salad or the Mediterranean Tuna Salad!

This recipe makes about 5 cups of soup! Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 4 points for 1 cup

*recipes was adapted from allrecipes.com

Mediterranean Tuna Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 ounce) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 (4 ounce) cans of chunk light tuna in water, drained
  • 1 cup of cucumber, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup of feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine all ingredients and serve over greens, beside some sliced fruit with a slice of toasted whole wheat baguette, or with a bowl of soup! Enjoy!!

Add olives if you wish! (I don’t care for olives so I leave them out)

This recipe makes about 6 cups. Weight watchers Points Plus 2012: 4 points for 1 cup

This is very filling, full of protein, healthy fats, and fiber! All the lemon juice is great for weight loss because it aids in digestion!

*this recipe was adapted from laaloosh.com!

Veggie Straws with Black Bean Hummus!

This snack is so amazing! These Veggie Straws dipped in Bobbi’s Black Bean Hummus are nutritious and so yummy!

I usually count out 12 straws and dip them in 1 TBS of hummus for Weight Watchers Points Plus Value: 2.

Sometimes, I use 2 TBS with 12 veggie straws and enough baby carrots to finish the 2 TBS of hummus for Weight Watchers Points Plus Value: 3!

This hummus is a Philadelphia Area treat but any hummus that you like for 1 point per TBS would be just as good!

ENJOY!

Pirate’s Booty


One serving of this awesome snack is 1 ounce. 1 ounce is 4 points (for me, that is too many for a snack on WW so I eat 0.5 ounces, which ends up being a few puffs less than a cup.)

0.5 ounces (a few puffs less than a cup) is worth Weight Watcher Points Plus Value: 2.

I could eat the whole bag but to control myself I put a paper towel on my food scale, weight 0.5 ounces, and only eat what is on the paper towel. A yummy, all natural, 2 point snack!

*Put a few baggies filled with these in your car.

**If you overfill your cup (which I tend to do when I am feeling like a piglet) you are moving towards the 3 point mark so don’t overfill your cups! oink oink!

Banana Yogurt “Milkshake”

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of Organic Skim Milk
  • 1 (4oz) container of Organic Stonyfield Activia Yogurt (peach, blueberry, strawberry, or vanilla)
  • 1 tsp of Vanilla extract
  • 2 Organic Ice Cubes (get my organic humor?)
  • 1 whole,  peeled (duh!) Banana

Directions:

Put everything in your blender and blend! I like the puree setting!

**by the way, for those who don’t know, you don’t have to buy organic bananas because you don’t eat the peel, save your money to spend on your organic ice…

This is so delicious for Weight Watchers Points Plus Value: 3!!!

You could even pour this into a to-go coffee cup and bring it with you wherever you are going in the morning. This is a yummy dessert too!!

Bananas are a good source of Vitamin C, Fiber, and Potassium. The milk is obviously a good source of calcium and protein and of course the yogurt has active cultures to keep your gut clean and happy!

Pasta Fagioli

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 organic onion
  • 2 cloves of organic garlic
  • 2 organic carrots chopped
  • 1 can of organic cannellini beans
  • 1 can of organic tomato sauce (i like muir glen)
  • 1 tbsp of italian seasoning (i use cento; i need to mix my own organic blend but haven’t done that yet)
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans of chicken broth (I use my homemade organic chicken broth; will post about that another time)
  • 2 cups of water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1.5 cups of organic pasta (I used Trottole when I made the batch in this picture)
  •  Parmesan Cheese (optional)

Directions:

Puree onion, beans, garlic, and 1 cup of water in the blender until smooth. Add mixture to a large pot followed by the tomato sauce, carrots, the rest of the water, broth, and seasonings. Bring the soup to a boil and then add your pasta. Cook the soup on high heat until the pasta is done (see on the package how long the pasta takes to give you an idea); stir often. Sprinkle a little Parmesan on top before you serve.

Weight Watchers Points Plus 2012: 3 points for 1 cup! Including a little sprinkle of Parmesan!

I eat this at lunch with my Bulgar Salad and it is a perfect weight watchers lunch! It is filling and so healthy!! The hidden beans are so high in fiber, magnesium and iron! The tomato sauce provides antioxidants and is a great source of vitamin C. The carrots have beta-carotene which can help boost your immune system!! Enjoy!!

* You could puree only half the beans and keep the others whole if you want more bulk (i haven’t tried to do this because I like this soup the way it is but experimenting is fun too!!

I modified this recipe (originally posted by SkinnyTaste)