Women have asked me this question enough times when I’m coaching them where I believe this is a huge part in being proud to be healthy. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, embarrassed of, or feel you’re being high-maintenance. There’s no reason to deny your health goals if you want to continue it at a social situation. It’s all about being prepared, being honest, and being generous.
So in doing some research here are some common tips that always come up:
- Eat before you go. This was by far the most popular tip, and probably the most useful. …
- Place limits. …
- Plan ahead. …
- Drink lots of water and eat fruits and veggies. …
- Have a big salad before the main course. …
- Log what you eat, so you’ll be more aware of it.
- Avoid alcohol. …
- Bring your own.
(Courtesy of Zen Habits)
I agree with some but let’s step out of the norm and get even more creative and proud of choosing healthy foods. Why does every party have to be about fried, creamed, overly-cheesy, chippy and dippy kind of foods? It’s as if no one believes that healthy is delicious. Here are my tips to make the party more exciting and one you’ll look forward to:
- Ask the host if a fun game can be played- and give some suggestions! It’s nice when there’s action going on and the party isn’t solely focused on drinking, eating, and talking. A game where the guests can get to know one another more and veer away from their comfort cluster is a wonderful way to make the party more enjoyable.
- Do not go starving- I can’t stress that enough. Make sure your day is like any other day where you’re nourishing your body and blood sugar with healthy proteins, fats, and complex carbs.
- Be generous and bring 2 appetizers of your own! Or bring a side dish- make it a vegetable dish. Perhaps a healthier cocktail for the bar. You’d be surprised how many people will thank you (including the host!) for bringing an item or two- you may be able to find a few new health-minded friends where you can have some wonderful conversations. You don’t have to eat what is at the party if you don’t want to.
- Continue your healthy habits throughout the day of the party. I always say get some source of exercise in that day. To boost the confidence, have the endorphins flowing, ensuring that your “feel good” feeling will continue throughout the event.
- Talk about your health to others. You don’t have to preach, there is a way to do this where it’s NOT annoying. Never appear you are superior, know more, do more, or are stronger than anyone you talk to. Talking about health has to be done in a HEALTHY way. You can be proud without appearing superior. You can be informative without preaching. Another tip is listening and learning from others at the same time. When you talk about your health goals and lifestyle, there will be interest, questions, AND accountability at the event where you’ll be less likely to pick up a hot wing.
Here are 5 easy and healthy recipes for your party list:
- I love buffalo sauce and bleu cheese so this is a perfect alternative to the world of hot wings: http://www.eatingwell.com/video/6957/how-to-make-buffalo-cauliflower-bites/
- Ceviche! Get some cooked shrimp and dice up with fresh veggies, avocado, cilantro, lime juice, and garlic. I love jicama for some crunch!
- Trio of guac. Guacamole will never get old but why not get some conversations started with a trio of different versions of this healthy dip? Mix small cubes of watermelon with guacamole for a refreshing summer dip. Rick Bayless has an awesome recipe that calls for mixing almond butter (yes, it is delicious) and toasted pumpkin seeds. He also has a BLT one where you add diced tomato and bacon (find nitrate free bacon- if you can get locally even better). How about caramelizing red onion with ghee and garlic and mixing it in the guac? (I literally just thought of that!)
- Buy some organic chicken tenders and make your own chicken satay. Season chicken as you wish: salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, whatever floats your boat. Place chicken tenders on skewers and sear on the stovetop for 2 min each side, or until a toasty brown. Place in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Make an almond butter sauce:
- 1 1″ piece ginger, peeled.
- 1 small garlic clove.
- 1/2 cup creamy almond butter.
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce (find gluten free if possible).
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice.
- 1 teaspoon (packed) light brown sugar (you can omit but a tsp won’t kill you).
- 1/4 -1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes.
- Garnish with sliced cucumbers and red onions that have been marinating in white wine vinegar and olive oil.
- Simple and easy zucchini fritters (dairy, grain, and gluten free) are super filling, nutritious and tasty. I like to make an aioli with avocado mayo (thrivemarket.com) , garlic, lemon juice, and any other herbs lying around. Or mix the mayo with Sriracha for a dip with a kick.
See? Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean a veggie tray with hummus (yawn!) but a world of endless possibilities. Try hosting a party where you showcase your talents and way of eating – share the recipes or where you bought something. Create a world that isn’t afraid of healthy foods. I have found that healthy foods cooked the right way, with the right seasonings, and with love, are far more delicious than anything put in a deep fryer or coated in bread crumbs. Trust yourself and your passion- and have fun! Cheers!
The biggest challenge a woman has when I ask them how much they cook is TIME. No one has time. For this, that, themselves, and creating nutritious meals for their family. I tell my clients that the KEY to health is cooking more. Knowing your ingredients. Being responsible for what you put into your body along with your family’s. Michael Pollan http://www.michaelpollan.com talks about this in his most recent book, “Cooked”, and has so many resources on the importance of the family table. The connection to your family, that mental space you need to create, is just as important as the food you put on the table. Talking. Opening yourself to your children and what may be going on with them. Looking at your partner and smiling with no distractions. Enjoying the tastes, textures, colors of what is on your plates.
So do you have 15 minutes? Feel organic is too expensive? Well, those excuses are not only used way too much but aren’t true. We do have the time, we have to carve it out and realign our priorities. 15 minutes to cook or 15 minutes looking at your phone? A $5.50 latte or $3.99 organic blueberries? Another pair of black boots at $250 or does your grocery bill go organic and slightly increase? It’s all about shifting in life. Acknowledging and respecting what is most important.
Down below is a SUPER easy recipe of the photo above that is A) organic, B) Under $15, and C) 15 minutes. Try making it tonight! (It’s great for leftovers to take to lunch the next day)
A 15-Minute All-Organic Meal Under $15
Chickpea Cakes Over Mixed Greens
What you need and what to do:
- 2 cans (15 oz each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained. Put in a food processor. ($1.98)
- 4 T whole wheat flour or alternative flour ($.20)
- ½ tsp each of ground cumin, salt, and pepper ($.28)
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped ($.29)
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten. Pulse until combined. Form 16 patties and roll in additional flour ($.68)
- Heat 2 T olive oil in a skillet over medium-high and cook patties, in batches, until golden, 2-3 minutes per side (4.39)
- Divide 2 cups of mixed greens (such as chopped kale, spinach, and Swiss chard) into 4 blowls and top with 4 patties per bowl ($3.84)
- Total= $7.66
(Courtesy of Prevention Magazine, March 2017 issue)
As a busy mom that I am I’m always looking for that super easy portable snack. The one that is healthy on top of it. Now that I’m totally conscious of what I put into my body- and my daughter’s- it’s amazing to me how 90% of our bars out there are not the healthiest for us. Many are packed with processed ingredients and a TON of sugar. Reading labels is a new hobby for me and I’m glad because protein bars are probably one of the most deceptive products on the market. And everywhere including health food stores has rows of them. So here’s a quick peek of a few bars that I’m choosing to stay clear of and then my favorites on the street.
LUNA Bars – one of my favorites back in the day. Specifically, the Nuts Over Chocolate bar. 10 years ago I thought they were made for me, as a woman. That I would be “healthy” by eating it. That’s how they marketed to me at least. And every ingredient starts with the word “organic” – which unfortunately doesn’t mean squat when it comes to nutrition.
- The first ingredient is what they market as “LunaPro” which is their concoction of processed soy, AKA soy protein isolate, and rice flour.
- Now their sugar content is 10g which isn’t terrible but they list “other carbs” at 11g. Not sure what “other carbs” are.
- Amongst other OK ingredients are the sugars in disguise to include cane syrup, brown rice syrup, oat syrup. AKA sugar. And again more processed soy in the form of soy lecithin.
- There are about 25 ingredients in the bar. To me, that’s just too much going on.
Clif Bars- same company that makes LUNA Bars. There’s a person climbing a mountain. SO MUCH ENERGY! So strong! So healthy. Right?
- Let’s go for over 25 g of sugar in many of their bars (under 10g is a great goal to have). Let’s try the Carrot Cake. 25 g of sugar. Then we have the FIRST ingredient as brown rice syrup. But it says it’s organic, doesn’t that mean it’s healthier? Nope. Sugar is sugar mi amiga.
- Now they have their “ClifPro” which is also soy protein isolate and other processed ingredients.
- Then more processed soy.
- Then some cane syrup, more sugar.
- Then some soy white chocolate (more soy? Do we need any more?), some soy butter, soybean oil and soy lecithin. How much more estrogen can my ovaries handle?
- Ahh, I see some raisins, carrots and coconut. But they’re way at the bottom.
Think Thin Bars- which won’t make you thin by their ingredients. Their website markets their bars as GMO Free, Gluten Free, Vegan, Kosher… none of which are true nutritional benefits. GMO Free is appreciated and definitely important. And for those with gluten intolerances and celiac, great to know there’s no gluten. Doesn’t mean it’s good for you though. Vegan and Kosher? Those don’t make it healthy either. Oh and they say no refined sugars which I’ll talk about below. Now their website has their nutritional labels but for the life of me I cannot find their ingredients on any of their bars. I did find them on www.nutritionexpress.com though.
- They all have 0g of sugar- and they market their products as having no refined sugars. That’s great, thanks. However read that label and you’ll see 11g of sugar alcohol. Not only do I not want to be bloated and holding in my farts all day (and getting a stomach ache), but I don’t want all that fake stuff in my body. And the body treats the fake stuff as if you’re eating the real stuff so “sugar free” is not freeing at all. There is way too much controversy on artificial sweeteners as well.
- Protein blend to include processed proteins like soy protein isolate
- Malitol which is your sugar alcohol- (aka your farts)
- More processed soy
KIND Bars: I appreciate that the KIND Bars have come out with their low-sugar line and I will be honest, I sometimes pick up their dark chocolate sea salt bar. Great nutrients but the only ingredient I’m “eh” about is the soy. It’s at the bottom of the list but it’s still there. I just try to avoid the world of heavily processed soy as much as I can. But eating one day a month won’t kill me.
My picks for the BBOTB…
Lara Bars- www.larabar.com (Various stores and online) These contain natural and minimal ingredients but I do have these in moderation. They are date-based bars which have a lot of fiber and nutrients, but also quite a bit of sugar. So just watch your sugar intake the rest of the day.
Perfect Bar – www.perfectbar.com (Fruitful Yield & Whole Foods have in refrigerated section). Or you can buy online.
Two Moms Bars- www.twomomsintheraw.com (Whole Foods and online)
Simple Squares Organic Snack Bars- www.simplesquares.com
Trader Joe’s grain free bars: This bar is 100% grain free and full of nuts and seeds. It’s also made with coconut oil versus the refined vegetable oils that most bars are made with.
I’ve also made my own nut-butter based bars and balls on a Sunday night and freeze them. Here’s a fast and easy recipe you can try: http://www.healthy-liv.com/no-bake-4-ingredient-peanut-butter-energy-bites/ You can use almond butter with this recipe as well. I use gluten-free oats.
Let’s just put this out there for my faves above- most ingredients are non-GMO, gluten free, organic, real, you know the rest.
So in conclusion- keep it simple, keep it real. Put as much real food into your body. The longer the list, the harder to pronounce, the more processed, the nutritional value just goes down, down, down. There are options out there. Just read your labels.
Snack smartly and live well-
Meal planning is being talked about in so many areas to include getting healthy, alleviating stress, making your week flow better, helping your budget and getting your life organized. Life’s crazy for everyone and cooking has become less of a ritual than it has been in the past. That’s part of the problem with the way we’re eating and our health- we aren’t in the kitchen as much. We’re over-scheduled. We eat on the fly. We have other people making our food. And most times we don’t know what’s in it. Big problem. So how do you look at the words “Meal Planning” and not roll your eyes or dread it?
What Is It Exactly?
Simple. It’s anything you create that will…
- Create amazing, nutritious, clean meals and at the same time…
- Ease anxiety, dread, or fear of creating them.
- Saves you time in the kitchen.
- It’s your customized plan that works for you and your family.
- You can choose to plan all meals, or just the ones that are the most challenging for you to cook.
The reality is, planning is essential for healthy eating and living. Otherwise you have a huge risk of making fast, spontaneous, and unhealthy choices on the fly. Having meals ready and waiting will ease anxiety and give you the confidence that you’re providing the best meals for you and your family.
Just know- and remind yourself, that any habit or lifestyle change takes a few weeks to make it part of your groove. Where you don’t have to think about it or feel it’s a chore. So today make the commitment to this commitment- and be patient. Second, have the goal of putting yours and your family’s health at the forefront. The only way to do this is to choose the right foods & prepare them yourself. Health is your WHY where creating these meals is your HOW. Tips? Check out my top 5 – and reach out to me directly for more (I have so much more!).
- You have to block a time for choosing (30 min), shopping that week (an hour) and a time for prepping (2-3 hours). And follow it as if you had a boss. I prefer prepping all at once and getting some Pandora playing on a Sunday night after Brooklyn has gone down. TV kinda stinks lately and I know I’m not missing anything. Do what works for you when it comes to time. If a Sunday afternoon is best where the kiddos are with your partner or maybe the grandparents, awesome. A Saturday night once everyone is down and you have peace and some chamomile tea? Great.
- Involve your friends! Have a batch prep night where your friends all come over with ingredients for their favorite meal. Everyone preps in someone’s kitchen and you exchange meals. So if you invite 6 of your friends, you all walk away with 7 meals to include recipes. Get the tunes playing and wine flowing! We all complain that we’re too busy and never see our friends, well… this solves one problem!
- When choosing your meals, have your family join you and help select the meals. Depending on age, you can have everyone come to the table one night with their favorite meal. Or if you want to make sure they are choosing something healthy, you choose and print out 10 meals where you allow them all (including your partner!) to choose a meal or two they would like that week. Take them to the store with you, give them their meal with ingredients, and have them shop. Again, depending on age. Don’t assume they won’t do it, or that attitude & energy will transfer to them and then…they won’t. Assume that they will, exude that energy and confidence that they can contribute to the family, and you’d be surprised what they can actually do. I don’t have my 3.5 year old go around with her Trader Joe’s cart (I have a love/hate relationships with the independence and chaos of those carts) but I do ask her what she wants to eat based on what I’ve planned to cook that week. With our Green Chef meals we get, I show her the recipe cards and photos and ask her what she wants to make that night. She loves making decisions and feeling like a big girl.
- Find the meal(s) that bring you the most stress. The ones where you are running out the door grabbing anything you can find. The ones you don’t have time for. Those are the meals you need to plan for.
- When you are starting, make a list of 2-3 days of meals that you have made before and love. Don’t try anything new or complicated when you are just starting out.
Bonus! Finally- do what works for you. A little bit of meal prep is better than none at all. If you find it too challenging to prep the amount of meals you’re attempting, then scale it down. Start small so as to not overwhelm yourself and quit. Planning, prep, and budgeting properly are THE only ways to get healthy meals into your home. The resources are out there for you to choose the healthiest options and if you’re stumped on what to make or try, that’s what I’m here for! I wish you all the best and am rooting for you all the way.
Energize Your Life-
When I had Brooklyn, I thought that simply being a health coach and eating well myself would be the key to Brooklyn eating healthy. She was an amazing eater when we started solids. In fact, she ate everything with no challenges. I thought, “I got this!” and like many of you, a toddler fooled me. How do they do this so well?! We think we have the system down and then they surprise us. Where we feel we need to start all over figuring them out.
So instead of feeling frustrated, confused, or alone, let’s talk about it! Below are MY tips from not only experience but also some tough talks with our pediatrician. Good news is that the road to your children eating better will actually make your life easier, not harder.
- Expose, expose, expose. It’s all about putting things in their life to show them the beauty of foods that nourish them. The more you give them and have them experience, the healthier foods they will eat.
- Cook ONE meal. So many women I talk to make or buy separate meal options for their kids. They are so focused on the child eating SOMETHING that they are willing to exhaust themselves cooking an entirely separate meal. (This does not apply to children with food allergies or intolerances) The dinner you cook is for your family. Everyone eats it. If your child chooses not to eat it, that is their choice. But there is nothing else offered. And after dinner is done, there is no other food. No snacks, no fruit, no string cheese, nothing. There will be things they legitimately won’t like (just like you have things). But the area of manipulation plays a hand in this and food is definitely a form of control for kids.
- Try again in a week. Maybe that day your son isn’t in the mood for broccoli. It happens to us as adults! He simply may not be in the mood for it or have the taste for it. Or maybe he had too much of it that week. So try again in a week or two. If his taste buds just don’t like it, try in a couple weeks but don’t give up. It can take over a dozen times for his palate to like it.
- Eat with your children. Sit down as a family and be the example of eating the wonderful food you prepared. Talk and connect. Laugh. Enjoy your food together. Without the TV, phones (have a phone basket that your kids put their technology in during dinner), or distractions. This goes for restaurants as well. It saddens me (I don’t judge b/c I get it) when I see a family at dinner with children all on their phones playing games or headphones and an Ipad on while eating dinner. Or dad on his phone with work. Or mom on Facebook or texting. Meals need to be a time of connecting. Reconnecting. I understand that you may want a peaceful dinner without your toddler needing your every 2 minutes but putting them on an Ipad isn’t the solution. Get a sitter so your child can have healthy play and interaction while you and your partner enjoy the quiet meal you want.
- Mindful eating and conversation. I love talking to Brooklyn about what certain foods do for her in a way she can understand. “This spinach will give you so much energy to play with your friends at school today!”
- Do not force if they don’t want or like it. I don’t make food a big deal. If she’s done, she’s done. I tell Brooklyn to listen to her body and when she’s full to stop. My goal for her is to try things once and I tell her she can always spit it out if she doesn’t like it. That it’s OK not to like something.
- “I Tried It!” card. Brooklyn has this card where she gets to put stars down for every new food she tries. When she gets to 10 stars, she gets to do something special with me or we head to the Dollar Store for an item.
- Do not reward eating healthy with eating crap. We grew up with this. You eat your dinner, you get dessert. Don’t counteract the healthy choice with an unhealthy choice. I’m all for dessert on occasion but it shouldn’t be the key to your child eating healthy.
- Get away from children’s menus at restaurants. I still don’t get this separate meal thing with kids. I wish that restaurants would offer “kid portions” of the same things that are on their menu for adults. So if I order a salmon entrée with freshly steamed veggies, I’d like to order one for her as well. I usually just give her some of my dinner as the portions at restaurants are ridiculous as it is. But why should children be eating overly processed and fried chicken fingers, refined grains and sauces loaded with sugar, carb-loaded options, along with no entrée options with vegetables (unless they offer veggie sides)? Most children’s meals at restaurants are disgusting in my opinion.
- Give them choices. With every meal, have at least one option you know that they love and try to give some options for them to choose a couple from. So have 3 veggie options for them for example. Or if you know she loves chicken, make that. Having at least one new item for them to try.
Still having challenges? Just reach out to me and we can talk it through. You don’t have to do this alone.