Monday, April 03, 2006

Sensible eating isn't a secret

This post is for all the people who have emailed me to ask what kind of diet I am on.
The truth is,I'm not actually on any specific diet.I have kind of made up my own eating plan and it seems to be working. I lost another pound today so that makes 44!

A few years ago,Dr.B told me to find a healthy way of eating that I could stick to for life. My idea of "for life" was usually two weeks at the most. Then I had to "cheat" and eat something I really wanted. This bad pattern really messed me up. I'd lose a lot of weight and gain back double what I lost. I think we have all done that a time or two...or three....or four....or more. I know I certainly have.

After the pancreatitis attack this past November,I was told to go on a low sugar,low carb,low fat and low salt diet. The low sugar and low carb would help with my diabetes. The low fat would help prevent another case of pancreatitis and the low salt was for my high blood pressure. If you've ever read a box or label,you know that almost no food is low in all four areas. If it's low in one,it's high in the other three. This caused a lot of tears in the supermarket on my first few shopping trips. I've gotten better at it since then. I only cry a little now.

Many low carb foods are high in fat because low carb diets count carbs not fat.You could eat a pound of bacon which has zero carbs on a low carb diet. That could kill me now. In fact, Dr.B told me at my last visit,that eating one Chinese egg roll is enough to give me pancreatitis again. OUCH! I had hoped that eventually I could eat one but never mind! It's not that important. I flash back to my 7 days in the hospital and how much pain I was in even with the morphine and I don't find that egg roll as appealing as it once was.

So basically,I read a lot of labels and use some common sense. I know what I like and I know what makes me gag. In the beginning,I choked down some whole grain bread since it was deemed healthier than other breads. I felt like I was eating dirt. It certainly smelled that way. After a disgusting breakfast,I wanted to eat something delicious. I ended up eating more than I was supposed to. Now I just cut to the chase and eat the delicious food instead. I eat much less this way. Also,my diabetic counselor,Lynn,said that one serving of bread has 15 grams of carbs,no matter if it's white bread or a whole grain bread. She told me,"Eat what you enjoy!" What a good philosophy.

Breakfast usually consists of some type of bread.My dad was the manager of a Jewish bakery so I have a deep love for yummy bread,rolls and bagels. Dirt does not appeal to me. I tried Weight Watcher's bagels for a few weeks and then they made me gag.They had a diet smell to me and I just couldn't eat them.

Now I buy the supermarket's gourmet mini bagels which has 22 grams of carbs for the whole bagel.I use light vegetable cream cheese which has 4.5 grams of fat in 2 tablespoons which is higher than I would like but lower than other cheeses so I deal with that. I use fat free cream in my coffee which believe it or not is yummy and turns my coffee the same color as regular cream. It's delicious.

I try to only eat one portion not several portions of whatever I am eating. I use low carb bread crumbs when I make chicken cutlets instead of corn flake crumbs and I cook in canola oil instead of vegetable oil. Every little difference counts.

My big splurge is salad dressing. I have tried them all. The low fat,fat free dressings are not tasty to me. So I had to compromise.(I use a salad dressing that may only be available in my state since it is from a local restaurant.) It is an Greek oil and vinegar dressing and is high in fat. Two tablespoons of dressing have 19 grams of fat...yup...NINETEEN! I would not usually eat anything like that but here's what I do.

I put my salad in a plastic container. I measure out 2 teaspoons of dressing,not tablespoons, and pour it in the container. Then I put the cover on and shake it up. This evenly coats my salad. I'm guessing the dressing is about 7 grams of fat this way which is still high but not as bad as nineteen and I can enjoy what I am eating rather than trying to gag down a dressing I hate that is low fat or fat free.

If I eat something higher in carbs than normal, I try to get an extra walk in during my day. I try to walk at least 15-30 minutes every day. Sometimes I can do it twice a day. Some days, not at all. Last week Lillianna was home sick from school for 4 days so I didn't get out to walk at all. I don't beat myself up about these things anymore. I know I am doing my best and if today was not a great day,tomorrow can be better.

I also don't play the "ooops" game anymore. That was in the old days,B.P.(before pancreatitis)when I would be on a diet and then eat something I wasn't supposed to. After this slip,I would declare the whole day was messed up and binge until bedtime. The next day I would think, "Well,yesterday was all screwed up. I'll eat what I want this week and try again next week." Sometimes my "ooops" was on a Tuesday! I just kept giving myself permission to be off my diet.

So,what has changed for me? Why am I sticking to a good eating plan this time? Well,nothing gives you a good scare like almost dying does. I want to be alive and healthy and it took my bout with pancreatitis to wake me up. I'm awake now!!

My best advice is to read labels,be honest with yourself about what you are eating and try to fit exercise into your daily routine. I used to think that if I couldn't exercise for 30 minutes then it wasn't worth the effort.So I never got off of my butt. What I didn't realize was that almost every day,I can fit 15 minutes of walking into my schedule. That has made a huge difference. Every minute of exercise is important to me now.

I walk while Lillianna is at her Brownie meeting and when she is in dancing school. I try to walk Lillianna to and from school as often as I can. If I can do both in one day,that's an hour of walking and it's fun. Lillianna loves walking to and from school. She thinks it's a treat and she knows it's healthy for both of us.

I hope this has been helpful. I appreciate all the support I have received from my readers and I want you to know that I am here for you. Let me know if you need any more tips. It's been an interesting 5 months on this eating plan and I am amazed at how much I have learned about adapting recipes so that they are healthier for me.

Kris told me this was possible right after I got out of the hospital but I didn't believe her. How could anyone make forbidden food into a food that wouldn't kill me? Well, she sent me a low fat cookbook a few weeks ago and let me tell you,I'm hooked! It's possible to adjust high fat to low fat. It really is!! Sorry I didn't believe you,Kris!! I am going to share one of my favorite recipes. Lillianna loves these fries. The first time she ate them she said,"Even though I don't like potatoes,I love these fries....even though I know they are potatoes!" Then she laughed and asked,"Can I have some more,please?" Let me know if you try this yummy recipe.

Low-Fat French Fries

4 medium potatoes,not peeled (about 5 ounces each)
1 tablespoon oil (canola or olive)
salt to taste (optional) //I use the light salt. It has half the sodium.\malt vinegar to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Cut potatoes into half inch slices or strips.

Place potato slices in a plastic bag with oil and shake well to coat potatoes evenly.

Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.

Arrange potatoes in a single layer and bake for 30 minutes,or until golden brown, turning potatoes every 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with salt,and serve with malt vinegar.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrient analysis:
calories 129
total fat 4g
saturated fat 0mg
cholesterol 0mg
sodium 8mg
total carbs 22g
dietary fiber 3g
sugars 2g
protein 2g

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