How to Indulge Without Overindulging on Thanksgiving.

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I have been repeatedly asked if I skip Thanksgiving or only eat the healthier foods on the table. My go-to answer is that it’s a holiday and take the day to enjoy yourself. Enjoy a little of everything you like and stop when you’re full. Skipping foods you love and only get to have once a year leads to resentment. Life is too short.

That said it is possible to indulge without being overindulgent. If you have a weakness for your mom’s sausage stuffing.  take a helping of it. It doesn’t need to be a huge portion in order to feel satisfied. Are there healthy options on the table that you enjoy? Add them to your plate as well but don’t make yourself to eat something you hate because it’s good for you. I despise green beans in all forms and never add them to my plate.

Make smart choices. Appetizers can add up to a lot of calories quickly. Take a small plate with your favorites and savor it. The same goes for dessert, take sample sizes of a few pies or one slice of the cheesecake you love. If you’re not a fan of dessert don’t feel forced to have it because it’s Aunt Carol’s famous pecan pie recipe. If you do feel pressured, simply say you’re too full, maybe later.

Keep your drinking in moderation and have glass of water for each alcoholic beverage. Many cocktails are very high in calories and sugar so try to stick with wine, beer, or use club soda with a splash of fruit juice as a mixer.

I also recommend getting some exercise, especially if you will be sitting most of the day. Not because you need to burn a bunch of calories in order to “earn your food” but because you’ll feel more energized and happy from the workout. Run or walk in your local turkey trot, go for a bike ride, play football in the backyard, or do whatever activity you enjoy best.

Finally, when it comes to leftovers take the turkey and some veggies but pass on the heavier sides. The holiday is Thursday, not the entire weekend. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving!

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12 Foods That May Seem Healthy but Aren’t

Last week I was at a breakfast meeting and the person sitting across from questioned if my omelet was indeed healthy. I am asked to defend or explain my food choices fairly often and this was an easy one. Eggs are healthy, doctors no longer think that they raise your cholesterol and it’s safe to eat an egg per day.

I had a new client tell me when he wants to eat light he’ll order tuna salad or a grilled cheese. I had to explain that the mayonnaise in traditional tuna salad made the sandwich pretty high in calories and fat. I’m not sure why he thought grilled cheese was healthy but fried cheesy things may be tasty but they aren’t healthy.

Flavored instant oatmeal

The fruit names sound good and oatmeal is healthy. Unfortunately flavored instant oatmeal packets have less fiber than rolled or steel cut oats. They also have much more added sugar and artificial ingredients. Stick with whole oats and add your own fruit and toppings.

Flavored yogurt

Similar to instant oatmeal flavored yogurts have either a lot of added sugar or a lot of artificial sweeteners. Plain, regular or Greek, has much less sugar, a good amount of protein, and probiotics.

Granola

Granola can have a lot of oil and sugar added to it. Choose a granola that is low in sugar and calories to ensure that your snack stays healthy.

Wheat or whole grain bread

Whole grains are good for you but unless the bread says 100% whole grain or whole wheat you aren’t getting only whole grains. Many commercial breads are mainly regular white flour with some whole grain flour added. Read your labels here.

Wraps

Wraps sound like a light choice compared to a regular sandwich but most wraps are high in calories, sodium, and fat and low in fiber. If you want a sandwich stick with 100% whole grain bread.

Yogurt muffins

Many of these claim to be low-fat and while some are most are high in sugar. They are also way larger than a homemade muffin and pack a lot of calories as well. Since there isn’t much nutritional value you’ll end up hungry in a few hours.

Fruit juice

Many juices aren’t whole juices and they are high in sugar but low in nutrients. If you need to drink juice stick with one that is 100% real fruit juice and stick with a 6oz serving. The best choice is just to eat a piece of fruit, since it also includes fiber.

Smoothies

Smoothies can be a very healthy choice but pre-made smoothies are often very large servings, have added unhealthy ingredients, and are high in sugar. Your best bet is to make your own smoothie at home.

Granola bars

Many granola bars are comparable with candy bars. They are often made with high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) without much nutritional value. Choose bars with limited ingredients that are low in sugar and are made with 100% whole grains.

Gluten-free snacks and breads

Gluten-free doesn’t automatically mean healthy. Many of these foods are made with less nutrient dense flours and oils. If you need to avoid gluten for health reasons choose foods that are naturally gluten-free such as lean proteins, whole fruits, vegetables and grains such as buckwheat and quinoa.

Fat-free snacks

Fat-free is another term that seems to have a healthy halo. Fa-free snacks and foods have extra sugar, salt, and additives to make them taste better. They can also be surprisingly high in calories while lower in vitamins and minerals. Naturally fat-free foods such as whole fruits and vegetables are the wise choice.

Frozen diet meals

While many of these meals practice portion control, they don’t pack a nutritional punch. They have too many preservatives and sodium and too few vegetables. A better quick meal is precooked frozen brown rice, frozen veggies of your choice, and beans or shrimp which cook up fast.

Need more ideas on what to cook and what to skip? Follow The Empowered Plate on Facebook where I share healthy meals, health, and fitness tips.

Did I Start Training Too Early and What’s With the Sweet Potato Fries?

sweet potato friesApparently I started training earlier than I need too. In truth I would have started in December whether I realized that or not. I tend to be a bit of a worrier and I would have been thinking about the longer distances. Now I have a pretty good base on which to start building.

Is it high mileage? No but I’d rather train smart for my first marathon. Saturday was another 7 mile run with my teammates. I kept an even pace and felt pretty good afterward. I felt it was my own pace or a tiny bit slower than usual. I run into problems when my pace feels too fast.

I was crazy hungry though after running. I took my own advice and had a small protein and carbohydrate snack. I then had a veggie burger, red rice and Brussels sprouts for lunch. It felt good, filling and it wasn’t full of bread. I know I need the carbs but want to stick with whole grains rather than bread. (I did have multi-grain gluten-free bread with almond butter for breakfast. One serving is enough).

I seem to have picked up a new post-run craving. I want french fries. I make my own from sweet potatoes so I don’t feel guilty about eating them. I think I’m really craving salt so I had some olives and sure enough I stopped thinking about fries.

I did make baked sweet potato fries for dinner. They are my favorite and they are full of potassium as well as beta carotene, perfect post-run food! Just slice them thin, mist with olive oil, salt, pepper & rosemary (optional) and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Stir half-way through and keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

 

Eat the Dessert! (or whatever it is that makes a holiday special to you)

chocolatecakeI was at a meeting the week after Thanksgiving and one of members told me I would be proud of him. He skipped all of the appetizers and dessert as his family dinner and stuck with the meal. Slightly horrified I asked him if he felt deprived? He said no, not at all and he really enjoyed the food that he ate.

So why was I horrified? Because skipping dessert would have left me feeling deprived. But I quickly realized that’s me, not him. He would have felt deprived if he didn’t eat his favorite foods during the meal itself. I get that.

No matter how much a holiday is really about family and relationships we have memories through foods as well. My feeling on this is to enjoy the holiday in what ever way that means for you. Not in love with dessert? Skip it. Can’t wait for the pie or cookies? Go for it. Mom’s lasagna is the best thing you’ve ever eaten? Savor it.

My two tips are: 1) Enjoy your food and stop when you are full. 2) Resist the temptation of taking leftovers home or keeping those tempting foods in the house if you are the one cooking. The 26th is a new day and time to go back to your healthy eating plan.

Some sites that I enjoy for healthy treats are:

Looking to lose a few pounds and gain more energy in 2015? I can help you with an easy plan that works for you and your busy life. Email me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, to set up a strategy session.

Eating at the Mall? Skip this Burger!

Photo: Carl Jr's

Photo: Carl Jr’s

One of today’s emails boasted on how a major fast food restaurant was adding a natural grass-fed burger to its menu. Carl Jr.’s, which is not anywhere near my house, is offering the burger which clocks in at 750 calories and 44 grams of fat. Not exactly health food.

While I’m a fan of grass-fed hormone free beef this burger has cheese, mayo, sugary ketchup and a white flour bun which takes away from the healthier aspects.

It can be hard when you’re out all day to try to find a quick healthy choice that tastes good and fills you up. Especially if you’ve been out all day holiday shopping and can’t quite deal with the thought of going home and cooking. There are a couple of choices you can take.

  • Bring healthy snacks with you so you don’t have to worry about finding food. At the very least, carry a bottle of water so you don’t get dehydrated.
  • Look in advance at your choices and figure out what you enjoy that’s a healthy choice. Have one or two backups in case lines are long. Places like Panera have their “secret” healthy menu, take advantage of it.
  • Leave the mall and go somewhere else to eat. Why I like this: it’s less hectic and you’ll feel more relaxed when you sit down.

If you do just want a snack stay away from empty calories, frozen yogurt offers sugar and not much else in the way of nutrition. I pop into drug-store or deli type store and buy a Larabar or a plain Greek yogurt and a piece of fruit. I also like a small plain cappuccino or latte with a sprinkle of cinnamon and cocoa if you’re jonesing for a coffee treat. It has protein and some fat (get the 2% or whole milk choice) to keep you full without all the sugar.

What are your strategies for making better choices when the selection is limited?

What is your favorite food stop in your mall?

Need help in making better food choices all around? Email me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, to schedule a strategy session. Together we can come up with a plan that works for you.

Feeling drained? Get Your Mojo Back Naturally

Ville_with_an_oxygen_mask_by_KaroleI love the phrase put your own oxygen mask on first. It sounds great but sometimes we forget to do it. I advocate taking time for yourself and caring for yourself so you have the energy to take care of everyone else.

So here’s my confession: I fell into a rut. I was crazy busy with work and training for my half-marathons. I let myself get sucked up and the only time I was socializing was a business meeting and on my long run Saturday mornings. I consider my running buddies my friends so it was quality time but it wasn’t enough. I made a pact with myself in June to start incorporating time for friends and fun back into my week. Wow, what a difference!

Increasing self-care is one of the best ways to improve your energy level. When you do things that you are passionate about, it fuels your soul. When you allow yourself to take a break and relax, you feel refreshed and have all the energy to take on the world.

Here are some ideas to nourish you soul:

1. Clean, fresh air

2. Exercise/movement

3. Meaningful relationship

4. Fulfilling career

5. Rest and relaxation

6. Spiritual practice

7. Creative hobbies

Create a “nourishment menu” for yourself. When you feel like you need a boost, take the list out and do one of the things that fuels your soul. Some ideas: taking a walk in nature, calling your loved ones, doing yoga or stretching exercises, taking your dog out for a walk, taking a walk with a friend to catch up, or working on a hobby.

Are you feeling like you aren’t paying attention to yourself? Do you feel tired and low on energy? Want to learn how to get your mojo back? Email me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, for a complimentary coaching session.

Surviving Cookouts & BBQs

WD D 0852I’ve been asked how to stay on track for the upcoming 4th of July holiday while still having a good time. If it was just one day I’d say it’s not that big of a deal but it’s a long weekend and we tend to get invited to a lot more parties over the summer. No one wants to feel deprived o nor do you want to blow your hard work.

I generally bring a dish or two that are healthy choices that can be enjoyed by others as well. Things like quinoa salads, whole grain pasta salad or grilled veggie kabobs are some good choices. I like to bring fruit salad, Italian ice or watermelon for dessert. The ice isn’t the healthiest sugar wise but it’s better for your waist line than most desserts.

At the cookout I choose grilled chicken or lean meat, baked beans, grilled veggies, coleslaw (the cabbage & carrots are good for you – even with the mayo), and salad. If hamburgers and hot dogs are the only choice I go for the burger and skip the bun. (or eat half of it). Hot dogs generally are sodium bombs, have added nitrates and rarely fill you up.

Alcohol is sugar and calories. Beer & wine don’t have as much calories and sugar as most mixed drinks, stick with 2 and be sure to have water in between. If you want a mixed drink skip the high calorie mixes and add in seltzer & a squeeze of lemon or lime (or splash of another fruit juice) instead.

Good dessert choices are fruit, sorbet or Italian ice. With ice cream stick to 1 scoop or a kid’s cup. And, of course, if you must have the brownie or cup cake stick with one and enjoy every bit. Then go play a game or walk around a bit – you’ll feel better and you won’t be tempted to eat more.

Need more healthy tips? I’m available for a complimentary planning session, just send me an email at: janinemchale@empoweredplate.com to set up an appointment.

If It’s Not Fun Why Bother?

hula hoopI’ve been speaking a lot about food the past few blogs and this week I’d like to talk about moving your body. I don’t want you to think about exercise as punishment or something you have to do. It should be something that makes you feel good, you enjoy and look forward to. The only way that’s going to happen is if you pick something that you actually like to do.

A friend of mine recently completed a 90 day body challenge and she looks fantastic. Truth be told I wouldn’t do her routine, to me it feels like punishment. Trying to fit that in or make it work with my running schedule gives me a headache. My running mileage has her saying I can’t; I think she could and she thinks I could do her routine. But if you don’t like it what’s the point?

You don’t have to have a major goal in mind. In the beginning the point is just to get you to start moving. Catch up with a friend on a walk, go for a bike ride with your kids, try roller skating again or put on fun music and dance for a while.

What did you enjoy doing as a kid? You’d be surprised at how much fun it still is to hula hoop, play tag, have a pickup basketball game or to play handball. Bring a friend or borrow some kids if you don’t have any. You’re body will thank you and you may surprise yourself with how good you feel after.

Need help getting motivated? Email me, janinemchale@empoweredplate.com, to set up a complimentary 30 minute power session. I work via phone or Skype as well as in person so location is not an issue!