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Life With No Recipe

by | Feb 7, 2020

Roasted red and yellow peppers, onions and tomatoes with feta crumble; roasted chicken breast and quinoa with a creamy mustard, turmeric and smoked paprika sauce. photo/No Recipe

Hello, friends. As we head into the gray months of pre-spring, the past year’s regrets that became the new year’s resolutions often begin to wane. And when goals are not met, we start to backslide. That’s when sunlight-deprived depression can set in, and then all bets are off.   

Dietary resolutions are among the most common and the most difficult to keep. Let’s see if we can change that this year.

Last month, my friend Kelci asked me for some advice. Her doctor had told her to cut down on processed meats and add more fruits and veggies to her diet. Putting on my most comfortable pair of PJs, I joined her for a grocery-shopping trip.

We began by circling the outside loop of the supermarket. I asked Kelci what fruits and veggies she usually ate. While gathering a cornucopia of those, I snuck a few others that I suspected she’d also like into the cart. It’s important to anticipate how one’s new diet will evolve. For example, in the absence of junk food, our snacking habits will gravitate toward healthier options that are just as easy to grab and munch on, like fruits, carrots and sliced cukes.

As we walked the outer ring, we grabbed some essentials, including yogurt, milk, eggs, and a bulk bag of chicken breasts. Then we entered the aisles.

I asked Kelci to pick up the products she’d normally buy, then explained their overlooked ingredients and negative impacts. To quell her disappointment, I helped her find alternatives to each one. Berry kombucha to replace soda and energy drinks; natural chicken sausage to replace bacon and processed pork sausage; granola and oranges to replace candy bars; yogurt and fruit smoothies to replace sugary breakfast cereals and doughnuts; salad with grilled chicken to replace McDonald’s for lunch, and sautéed veggies, meat and rice to replace microwave dinners.

Kelci said she’d typically spend $180 on a shopping trip. We managed to spend only $15 more, while adding far more veggies and increasing her stock of essentials. Those pre-made meals are expensive, and the savings realized by ditching them were impressive. As we stood in the checkout line, I could tell she was feeling doubtful. I assured her that the more healthy food she ate, the more she would crave it.

The next day, I got a text from her. She loved her breakfast smoothie and it had kept her full until lunch. After lunch, another text: the salad with grilled chicken was delicious!

That evening, Kelci messaged me asking for tips on cooking the veggies and chicken. I sent her those, along with some meal-planning suggestions. She stayed strong and stuck to her plan throughout the week. She confessed that it had gotten easier by the day as she realized how delicious healthy food can be.

The secret to success with resolutions is to set attainable goals and stick with it. It also helps to spend time with people who will encourage and support your efforts. Celebrate your small successes! Every chance to eat poorly that’s eschewed in favor of a healthy option is a victory to be savored.

Cooking in larger quantities with a plan for leftovers, and cooking from basic ingredients instead of packages, both lower the cost of healthier diets. Avoiding preservatives, food dyes and hidden sugars will also accelerate your progress. Use plenty of herbs and spices to jazz up your basic ingredients. That helps quash cravings for all the sugar and salt loaded into the pre-packaged junk, and as I noted in December, spices also boost your metabolism, helping to curb weight gain.

Lastly, don’t get hung up on weight-loss benchmarks. Just focus on healthy eating and let your body stabilize itself. You can do this and you can enjoy doing it! Remember, I’m rooting for you.

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