My clients often ask me “What’s a good lunch option to have for work?” Good question. If you enter any food hall or lunch café, you’ll notice that most options are very heavy on the rice, pasta, bread or noodles and very light on satiating protein and quality fats. If you are heading back to the office and sitting all day, you don’t need to be “carb loading” at lunch if you are sitting all day and having a sedentary afternoon at the office.
Eating inadequately at lunch can sabotage your weight loss efforts. If you don’t get enough protein and quality fats at lunch, you may find yourself wanting to chew your keyboard or ramming an entire packet of biscuits down your throat as you impatiently wait for your dinner to cook. On the other hand, if you eat well at your midday meal, you will enjoy long, sustained energy all afternoon, and your colleagues will notice that you’ll be in a nicer mood too.
Remember, protein and fats are a good source of amino acids for positive moods and energy for your body. Best of all, it requires three times more energy to process protein due to its thermic effect on the body. So as well as keeping your stomach fuller for longer, and your energy stable, your body goes into high-octane burn when you feed it protein, which gives you the metabolic edge.
Preparing your own lunches has two advantages – you eat better and you save money. Try these portable lunch options, and see how much fuller you feel in the afternoons.
Tuna jalapeno salad with hardboiled egg- Mix a 90g (3oz) tin of tuna in olive oil (drained) with some mayonnaise and chopped jalapeno peppers. Add some high fibre crackers (eg,Ryvita or Kavli), some leafy greens, sliced tomatoes and a sliced hardboiled egg.
Turkey Swiss Wrap- Takes some sliced turkey, Swiss cheese, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, mixed lettuce and cherry tomatoes. Roll into a high fibre wrap.
Melted Cheese Burger – take a juicy beef patty, add a slice of your favourite cheese, some mustard, tomato sauce, pickles and some sliced cucumber. You can heat this in the microwave at work.
Salsa Chicken Melt – take 100g (3oz) shredded cooked chicken, add some salsa and microwave for 90 seconds. Top with sour cream, chopped avocado (or ready-made guacamole) salt and pepper. Add some roast vegies.
Italian meatballs – these can be left over from dinner or you can make a batch and freeze in individual portions ready to go. Add grated mozzarella cheese on top and heat until warm and melted. Carry these in a secure container and place in a zip lock bag to prevent spillage. These are very filling without the “pasta load”.
Crust less Quiches – make one on Sunday, such as feta spinach or smoked salmon and feta or bacon, cheese and mushroom and cut into 4 serves. Keep refrigerated and this will do you for most of the week. Add a serve of fruit or Greek yoghurt for dessert.
Crab Salad Stuffed in Avocado. Take a tin of crab meat; mix with mayonnaise and lemon juice, salt and pepper. Fill an avocado half and enjoy with some high fibre crackers.
Be sure to get organised and think ahead on Sunday for the week ahead. Poach chicken breasts in preparation for salads and open sandwiches or make a crust less quiche. Cook up a big batch of Italian meatballs and freeze in secure containers. You can also roast a bunch of vegetables to have in the fridge (I love pumpkin, Portobello mushrooms, sweet potatoes, red peppers and carrots). Simply sprinkle them with olive oil and salt and roast in a moderate oven for 25 minutes. Homemade soups are also a lifesaver for lunches on the go both nourishing and filling, especially in the winter months. Transport your soups with you in a secure Thermos flask and add some high fiber crackers you’re your favorite cheese for a tasty lunch.
Enjoy the benefits of a protein rich lunch with healthy fats and fiber and notice how much less crabby and hungry you are throughout the afternoon.
What’s your favorite protein meal on the go? Please do share in the comments below.
BLOGS I LOVE
I have just finished reading Dr Pam Peeke’s book called The Hunger Fix, which is a recovery plan for overeating and addiction, using the latest neuroscience research. Dr Peeke shows us how to rewire our brains to seek healthier rewards than junk food. I loved the book and her blog too. Check it out here.
With Thanksgiving this week, there is an exciting build up in the air and anticipation about all the yummy food that will be eaten. While this is wonderful, “national overeaters day” can also create some anxiety for those of us who are in the process of achieving our weight goals or wanting to avoid weight gain. But with the right mindset, you can breeze through it without any setbacks.
Like anything in life, it is possible to stay focused on your goals if you have a great strategy. These 5 Thanksgiving eating tips will help you avoid sabotaging your goals and enjoy the day more while eating less.
Think about all the ways you miss the pleasure of the food because you are distracted or multitasking. If you are helping out in the kitchen, make a mental note to withstand the temptation to pick or graze as you cook or guzzle a glass or two of wine. Grazing gets dangerous because we are not fully aware of how much we are consuming. Instead, make the smarter choice to sip sparkling water as you help prepare the food and delay all your eating for when you are comfortably seated at the dinner table and feeling relaxed.
If you dearly love food, you rob yourself of all the delight and satisfaction it brings by not paying attention to how it tastes and feels by eating while standing up at the kitchen bench. Eating in the heat and busyness of the kitchen is not a relaxed environment, so try to abandon this habit for good. If you are too busy doing something else, you miss the whole experience of the food – and you deserve more than that!
Remember there is something better waiting for you if you give up the distracted eating. Save your appetite for the pleasures at the table. Doing so means you are acting on your own behalf and valuing the food more.
As you sit down to eat, take a few deep breaths in order to centre yourself. Aim to be the last one finished, which will help you slow down your eating to snail pace, so you can savour every single bite. Pretend to be a sommelier who tastes fine wine and imagine you have to explain all the nuances of flavour contained in each dish. Talk silently to yourself if you want to!
And as you enjoy your meal, remember these 5 Tips;
The treats will exist even after Thanksgiving passes. The world in which we live today presents us with nearly unlimited access to any food, any time we want it. This is wonderful, because it means that anything you see on a festive table is accessible to you any time you really want it. You can always buy a cooked turkey with gravy or make a pumpkin pie anytime of the year. So you don’t have to eat like it’s the last supper.
Stop. Think. Then Choose. Take a moment to pause and peruse the choices before you. What do you really want to eat? Rate your foods and go for the best fist, when your tastebuds are sharpened. Decide on your personal can’t live without choice and enjoy it without guilt. Resist the temptation to mindlessly pick or be filled with the need to have everything. Food is abundant!
Think About How You Want to Feel After Eating. Think back to a time when you overate, and stretched your stomach over into discomfort. Was it worth it? Did you feel better for it? Or miserable and regretful? Like a beached whale? As you eat, keep in mind that you want to feel better when you are finished eating than you did when you started. Aim for that “just right” feeling. Remind yourself to stay in the pleasure zone with eating, and any sign of discomfort is your signal to stop eating.
You Can Have Just as Good a Thanksgiving without overeating. The real purpose of the day is to be thankful and express gratitude for all the blessings in your life. Sure, having delicious food is something to be grateful for, so let food take care of your hunger and then reach out to the people around you and find further joy in human connection and conversation. Be grateful also for the meaning of the day and the loved ones in your life.
If you do eat more than you need, wait for authentic hunger before eating again. If you have a large, late lunch, you may not actually feel hungry for dinner. Perhaps a simple serve of yoghurt or a cup of soup may suffice, so be sure to listen to your appetite and don’t feel the need to eat a full need if you are not hungry – just because the leftovers are there.
I know that we live in a society that preaches “more is better”, but ask yourself “Is it worth it?”. Once your stomach is pleasantly satisfied, any more food inside of you is a waste, since most of the pleasure, in terms of taste, is to be had in the first few bites. By all means, enjoy your favorite dishes and when you hear that whisper of satiety, please know that you can leave food on your plate, save it or throw it away. Lastly, eating is not competitive, and there is plenty of food for you!
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU and a big thanks for being a loyal reader of my blog!
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
As a health coach, I often deal with women whose relationship to food is “all or nothing”. It’s very easy for them to end up berating themselves for not achieving “perfection”. Like one small slip spells failure. But it’s really how you handle the slip that counts. That perfectionism and inflexibility are exactly why 95 per cent of us struggle to keep the weight off.
It’s good to remind ourselves that “a wise woman avoids all extremes”, a saying I once heard from a beautiful French friend. It’s the softer, gentler and more nimble approach to life that really leads to enduring results. We are human beings, which means we are flawed. So we have to allow for some wiggle room!
Part of being happy, slim and healthy for life is avoiding extremes, maintaining a positive outlook and having a sense of holistic wellbeing. It’s all about balance and being nimble. Sometimes we get off balance, but with the right attitude, we know how to find our equilibrium again. When we pay attention, we can tell by how our jeans fit that we’ve been overdoing things.
Optimal health is a lifestyle not a fad. Before jumping into the next big diet trend — consider these 10 health tips every woman can slot into her day-to-day life.
Laugh: the act itself promotes happiness and enjoyment. When you are releasing weight and improving your health, the most important thing is that you feel good. To lift your mood, put on a funny sitcom or movie and have a good laugh. Having a chuckle can release stress, lower blood pressure, and boost of your immune system. Give yourself reasons to laugh!
The 60 second workout – Studies show that a dozen or so bursts of exercise of only 60 seconds can accumulate over the day to give the same health benefits as a 15 minute bout of moderate exercise. Make each minute count by raking up the leaves, making the beds, walking to the toilet on another floor, mopping, vacuuming or scrubbing the bath. Do some jump steps or walk briskly around the shopping mall or around the block in your coffee break. It all adds up!
Think Like an Italian – In Italy they have a saying “mangia poco ma bene” which means “eat little but well”. It means valuing quality over quantity, because it’s only with real, fabulous food that you will feel truly satisfied and complete. The Italians and the French know that satisfaction is the key to weight loss. So upgrade your food and the “Eurosize” your portions.
Be a bit of a Food Snob – if you really pay attention to your food and develop a discerning palate, you’ll notice when food doesn’t taste very good. Then you’ll be in a position to leave food that doesn’t thrill you or turn down food that doesn’t meet your standards.
Eat Your Breakfast: you think skipping out on the most important meal of the day is going to drive results quicker? Think again. Eating in the morning means you’ll be less hungry and tired in the afternoon and less likely to be tempted by doughy starches on the mid-morning coffee break. Give your body the nutrients it needs to get a good start.
Get some Vitamin “N” (Nature); numerous studies have found that time in nature calms the mind, allows us to focus and even improves mood and self-esteem. Walk in the park at lunchtime, do some gardening before dinner or walk barefoot along the beach regularly.
Bright Food Colours: are indicators of flavonoids, carotenoids and antioxidants. Bright coloured foods will provide protection from free radicals, lower body inflammation and are non-insulin promoting foods. Help yourself to leafy greens at every meal, and some berries at breakfast. Add in side salads, soups and vegies with lunch and dinner.
Breathe: stop, focus, and take a deep breath! Do it anywhere at any time: push out your bellows and suck air through your nose until your lungs are full. They’ll fill with nitric oxide, a chemical found in the back of your nose that opens up blood vessels. The dose of oxygen will make you feel happier and more alert.
The 50% solution; if you are confused about what you “should” eat, a flexible option is to eat what you really fancy and only eat half. A trick you can use to control your intake is to ask “Can I live with half the amount being offered?” When you are unsure about what you’ve been served, or when the serving is particularly large, simply eat the best 50% of the meal. Eat the protein first to feel most satisfied. Remember, pleasure with foods, in terms of taste, is to be found in the first few bites.
Have a good cry and then let it go; did you know that having a good cry can heal us physiologically, psychologically and spiritually! Crying can actually lower stress and elevate our mood, so don’t be afraid to sob and cry. Crying can relieve pent up stress and allows those difficult feelings to be felt. Unblock yourself by listening to some music or watching a movie that stirs emotions. Crying is cathartic and many people find they feel much better after a good cry.
Whats your favorite health tip for women? Please do share in the comments!
BLOGS I LOVE
Tish Jett, an American married to a Frenchman author and writer from the blog a femme d’un certain age writes eloquently about living a beautiful life with style, elegance, discipline, simplicity and generosity. Tish has a fabulous new book out called Forever Chic – Frenchwomen Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style and Substance. I purchased a copy on my kindle and highly recommend it! It is both charming and uplifting. Check out her blog here.
“I just want to stop my emotional eating” is a phrase I hear almost daily from my clients. Almost everyone who joins my coaching program has felt like a failure. One of the harshest aspects of emotional eating is that it creates stress and is aggravated by stress. Because of this, my aim is to help you make every imaginable effort to develop a lifestyle which is orderly, well planned and happy – stress free.
“I just don’t have the willpower to stay on a diet anymore” is a common complaint, mostly because they crave sweets or starchy carbs and can’t do without them for long. They start with “just a little” and end up eating a lot more than they feel they should. Often their spouses or family members criticize them, saying “Why don’t you just try harder? Or “Why can’t you just shut your mouth and stop thinking about food?” This only serves to make them feel even worse about themselves. Besides, if it were that easy, we’d all be slim!
Is It Really a Character Flaw?
Hearing such remarks from family and friends leads most people to believe that they lack willpower, discipline or have a deep character flaw. Not true! In fact, these same people are usually doing well in every aspect of their lives. They are highly effective at work, keep the bills paid and are great at organising social occasions. My clients are actually dynamic at work and models of willpower.
So if it’s not willpower, what is wrong with you? Are you an emotional basket case who can’t get by without comfort food? If you had more strength could you power through your problems without overeating? From my own experience and in helping others I can vouch for the fact that emotional eating is not because you are weak willed, it’s because you are simply depleted in certain brain chemicals which is why you reach for food for a mood boost.
Stronger Than Your Ability to Say “No”
Our brain chemicals, notably serotonin, are thousands of times stronger than street drugs. And your body has to have them. If not, it sends out a command that is stronger than anyone’s willpower “Find a drug like food that will briefly substitute for our brains missing chemicals”. It is very difficult to be mindful when your brain is starving for balance. This is why people become hooked on junk food because it has been proven that such foods temporarily release feel good hormones!
Chronic stress, too little sleep, alcohol, low calorie dieting, PMS, a lack of exercise and lack of protein (which contain essential amino acids needed to manufacture brain chemicals) are just some of the things that interfere with your neurotransmitters production.
Using food is more common than you think, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many people using food to feel better. Have you noticed when you are overtired, stressed or hung-over, you need the junk food no matter what? Nothing can come between you and the French fries or hot cinnamon donuts?
Why Jen Ate For Comfort
Take my client, Jennifer for example. Jen ate for comfort. She needed a treat to get through the day. A sweet muffin in the morning, a packet of chips in the afternoon, and a big bowl of ice-cream for dessert made her life worth living, especially on bad days. Food had become so much more than a tasty treat. She was afraid to let food go because it provided the perfect lift when the stress of life became too much. If she was all doped up on a food high, nothing else mattered. But, then shortly after, reality sets in and Jen was getting heavier and heavier which was scary for her.
Even though Jennifer desperately wanted to lose weight, she also wanted to hold on to the junk food because it was the only way she knew how to rapidly fill up her depleted brain chemicals which relieved her daily stress. She loved the feeling that junk food gave her and was dependant on her drug like foods for continued mood lifts.
Less Fattening Ways to Find Relief
I know how this feels, as I was once in this vicious cycle too. This is why the emotional eater yo-yo diets; they’re afraid to give up the relief food provides. It has nothing to do with gluttony or willpower- it is simply our best effort to feel better. But there are less fattening ways to find relief!
Once Jennifer understood this, she was diligent with eating enough quality protein at each meal. Your brain relies on protein – the only food source of amino acids – to make its necessary mood enhancing chemicals. I also suggested some amino acid therapy (5-HTP and GABA) to boost her moods naturally and calm anxiety, and some chromium to balance blood sugar, so she didn’t need to eat sweets to cope.
By maintaining a scheduled eating routine, including the low insulin foods, along with daily exercise, relaxation time and restorative sleep, Jen was able to stay away from junk food without effort and sip on hot tea instead. As a result, she is now losing weight and feels so much better about herself already. Even with the upcoming holiday season, Jen feels confident she can continue to lose weight steadily, now that junk food isn’t controlling her.
It’s Not Your Fault
It’s no secret that millions of people struggle with emotional eating, and they mentally beat themselves up for being so weak! But with our modern, high stress lifestyles, it’s so easy to become depleted in the brain chemicals that regulate our appetites and moods.
Also, the amazingly and increasingly addictive nature of sweet commercial foods, drinks, doughy starches and fried foods means that more and more of us are relying on these inexpensive foods to cope with life. It’s too easy to fall into the grips of addictive like behaviour. Unable to protect ourselves in the face of endless temptations we are gaining weight at a tremendous rate.
We should be enraged that the food industry fattens us with addictive foods, while the media makes us think we should be super skinny! What we are left with is fear and self-loathing. But since the situation doesn’t look like changing any time soon, all we can do is look after ourselves with great care by eating real, whole foods – not by turning to junk food- and by lifting our spirits with fun, laughter, exercise and enough amino acids to keep our moods boosted naturally.
Letting Go of the False Magic of Food
It’s scary to give up the temporary magic of food and have to learn more effective ways to feel good and handle the tension of life. Restoring depleted brain chemistry sounds like a big job – but it isn’t. When you do, you are in a position to eliminate overwhelming food cravings, anxiety, and mild depression and finally lose weight permanently. Food will finally be just food, rather than a drug.
Think about how good you will feel when you are not filled with regret after eating. When you no longer need to seek the comfort of food in the first place, there will be no more reason to call yourself “a failure”, “hopeless” or “stupid”. Instead you can revel in your triumphs when you no longer need all the unnecessary junk food calories, and feel confident in your ability to eat for hunger, pleasure and nutrition, rather as a way to cope.
You may have an idea that you eat emotionally too often, but have no idea how to stop. When you join my Thin for Life program, I consult with you personally and hold your hand to help you remove any obstacles that may be standing in your way of success. I have found that no amount of therapy can seem to stop emotional eating, if you are not also balancing your biochemistry with the correct food, lifestyle and supplements if needed.
Success needs to be a combination of the right food, exercise, stress management, mindset and body chemistry balance, which is why a system is needed to achieve all these things in harmony. My Thin for Life program provides you with all the tools needed to rebalance your body chemistry and end insatiable food cravings naturally.
Do you find it hard to stop after one cookie, candy or handful of chips? Stop beating yourself up and get the expert guidance you need to reclaim a healthy weight and a healthy self-esteem.
BLOGS I LOVE
Connie Bennett, from the blog called Sugar Shock, knew she had to break up with sugar when, after consuming large amounts one evening, her mood got so ugly that her boyfriend actually broke up with her! Connie has been living mostly sugar free for 15 years now and is the author of two great books called Sugar Shock and Beyond Sugar Shock. Check out her blog here.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of dining with an elegant French friend, Johanna, who is married to and Aussie friend of ours. I thought it was a good opportunity to politely cross question her about how she keeps herself trim at age 59, even after 15 years living away from her native France, and ask her if it is correct to assume that French women never get fat?
Here’s what Johanna had to say:
“Of course French women can and do get fat, but our culture protects us in many ways. As French we like to eat real food and tend to eat en famille, (but that is changing with modern life) not in front of the TV, and are proud to eat regional – food that is produced where we come from. We have set mealtimes, try not to snack, or wash down our food with soft drinks. We have such a proud heritage of food, that we don’t see the point of eating unreal or over-processed food. It’s a matter of national pride.”
“At the same time, what we call “la malbouffe” (processed food) is catching up in France and levels of obesity are rising. There is the impact of the recession on nutrition, more and more people can’t afford what they used to eat (animal protein and fresh fruit and vegetables) and replace it with cheaper foods like pasta, rice, fries and bread, foods with no nutrition, but it fills you up”
Snacking Culture on the Rise…
“When I go on holiday to the Mediterranean, fish (once an affordable protein) is now more expensive than meat, and that is not even in places where fleecing the tourist is expected. And, like Australia and other Western countries, more and more tasty snack foods are being made available all the time, meaning more people are getting addicted to them, everything from chocolates to ice-creams and syrupy coffees to cookies, chips and pizza. The French are fast veering away from everything traditional, and it’s not doing them any favours”
“Living in Australia, I am often pressured to drink more than I should and eat more than I need. But I don’t feel the need to eat or drink just to please others. If I’ve had enough, I stop – and I know my threshold very well. That’s how I maintain my equilibrium and my figure”
What about the peer pressure on French women to stay svelte? I asked……
“Yes, as a French woman there is definitely a social pressure to be thin for health but also for the norm in a very sexist culture. Pharmacies in France stock a never-ending array of miracle slimming and anti-cellulite products – from drinks to pills to creams (this is only matched by their love of bust creams and potions for ‘heavy legs’). So the truth is that peer pressure keeps us thin(ish) and just a little bit neurotic in France.” Johanna says.
“My French friends tell me they are gourmands at heart and might fleetingly consider larger portions of their favourite foods – but then remember they love their favourite clothes even more. No French woman wants to be too fat for fashion! My friend, Edith, starts every meal with a soup or salad. And yet she says: ‘I have never been on a diet’ -a sentiment echoed by most French women”
So, do you have any helpful strategies? I ask…..
“For French women, their first line of defence against snacking is hot tea – it gives a minute to think before being overcome by a desire to gorge.” says Johanna.
“Don’t believe the nonsense that Frenchwomen don’t exercise. Pilates is a favourite, as are aqua gym classes. And at any given moment, it seems half the city residents are on the sidewalks. Each side of Champs-Elysees is filled with pedestrians, seemingly 24/7. So are the side streets in villages all around France. We walk a lot. In public buildings, and many apartment blocks, going to higher floors almost invariably means climbing staircases rather than taking elevators or escalators” says Johanna. “Even here in Melbourne, I don’t have a car and walk or train it everywhere” she says.
To Wrap it Up….
“Thanks to an obsession with portion control, we can happily enjoy our croissants, baguette, cheeses and rich sauces, plus a modest glass of wine or two, without piling on the kilos. Well, that’s the theory. It comes down to constant vigilance about what we eat and how much, without ever mentioning the word regime (diet). We don’t diet, we are careful”
“Also, the French never adopted the low fat message and never jumped on the vegetable oil bandwagon but rather continued to use traditional fats like olive oil, cream and butter, no margarine or corn oil in those nasty clear, plastic bottles… And while a glass of wine is fine (no spirits or beer), I’ve never seen a Frenchwoman tipsy”.
French Woman Can Get Fat But Are Careful Not To
Some interesting insights here (thanks Johanna!). I guess the take home message is that of course French women can get fat too if they are not careful. They are only human after all. But for all the reasons mentioned above, they do a pretty good job at not succumbing to endless temptations and are sure to choose their indulgences wisely – but always in small doses!
Do you know any French women? What have you learned from her about eating? Please do share in the comments!
BLOGS I LOVE
Dr Melissa McCreary helps smart, busy women with too much on their plate cope with overload, overwhelm and overeating. If you are striving to make peace with food and reduce your stress and emotional eating, you must check out Melissa’s wonderful blog! You can check it out here.
Sally Asher Healthy Tips
Food is not the enemy. All foods can fit in the context of a healthy diet. Get all the tools, resources and support you need to reach your weight loss goals.