Sunday, September 26, 2010

Final Post On The 2010 Nutrition Program

I wrapped up my program with the nutritionist this week and I'm anxious to get this blog back on the "overall wellness track."

But first, here's a quick recap of what I garnered from 14 weeks of structured eating:

I had a great start on the program but found it difficult to maintain such strict eating "rules." Around the middle of the program, I started to make up my own guidelines and I found adaptations that worked well. I think that structure works fine for awhile, but it's important to also find your own threshold with various food groups.

Overall, I believe that a diet high in quality protein and fresh vegetables is the way to go. As far as starches and grains go, the "friendliest" foods for me were oatmeal and brown rice. Sweet potatoes too. Bread, pasta and baked goods are probably gone for good from my diet, and I'm okay with that.

Sugar has no place in my world and probably doesn't serve anyone well. My best days were the days that I went without any sugar, including "natural" sugars, such as agave. I found that my sensitivity to sweets is high and my tolerance is low. The problem that I found with sugar - even a small amount of it - is that a little bit created big cravings. It also doesn't support a steady blood sugar level, something I definitely need with days that include multiple transitions from clients to carpooling to clients to soccer practice.

Fruit was something that I grappled with. Low glycemic items - such as berries, melon and apples - were fine; bananas and mangoes and peaches were not. I'm careful now when I choose to eat fruit as it can have the same effect as sugar.

I get asked all the time about alcohol. I'm a wine lover. However, I found that the sugar content in wine was just too high for my body to assimilate to. Once I gave up sugar, a couple of glasses of wine would send me straight for the Advil bottle. So, instead of wine, if I have drinks with friends, I usually order a soda water with high quality vodka and a LOT of lime. People ask me, "Why not a vodka tonic?" What most people don't realize is that tonic is just like 7up, loaded with sugar. More bars should carry diet tonic; it's a great stand-in for regular tonic.

Another item that I've struggled with is dairy. We don't drink milk in our household. I don't like it and Ben doesn't seem to, either. For awhile we drank soy milk but the word is that soy is questionable, in terms of being a good alternative to milk. I use almond milk for smoothies but it's horrible on its own. I do buy high quality, high fat, organic yogurt for Ben. And I dip into it more than I should. I've never had a lactose issue but I've found that yogurt gives me an immediate stomachache. Which is too bad, because I genuinely do love it and I believe that the high quality stuff has great health benefits. Ben gets organic cheese but I only eat goat cheese. It's delicious and it's a good alternative to dairy cheese.

I write a lot about the heavy consumption of Zone bars in our house. I actually think that a Zone bar is the perfect "tide over" snack, in terms of calories, fat, sugar and protein. Ben eats one every night, right before bed and I try to keep one in my purse or gym bag at all times. It's the best bar I've found - in terms of nutrition and taste - and it's easy.

"Good" fat is something I'm still passionate about. I think that the world needs more flax oil and I'm just beginning to understand the health advantages of coconut oil (future post on this to come). I still eat handfuls of walnuts and almonds each day, and I have Ben eating a good half a cup of cashews daily, as well.

Vegetables are definitely becoming even more "center stage" in my diet. Before seeing my nutritionist, I probably averaged several cups of vegetables each day, with at least one cup being something green (spinach, mixed greens, asparagus or broccoli). At our last session, the nutritionist suggested that I increase my consumption of green vegetables to 4 to 6 cups a day.
That's a lot. Admittedly, shopping and prepping to meet that quota may be a little challenging.

Lastly, I wish that I could say that I gave up caffeine, but in all honesty, I'm more of an addict than ever! Short nights and long days make me grateful for multiple Starbucks locations. I really have no intention of giving up caffeine - ever. My own personal belief - which my nutritionist didn't support - is that caffeine is a great source of antioxidants and for many people, it is very well tolerated and perfectly fine to "wake up the system" at regular intervals during the day. I drink less than 4 cups a day (barely) and there are days where I wonder what I would do without it.

So, that's the recap on my 14 week nutrition adventure. In the end, I didn't lose any weight but I "swapped" nearly ten pounds of fat for muscle weight. And, consequently, my overall body fat dropped a few percentage points.

As usual, if you have any specific questions, please send an email or find me at the club. I'm always happy to share what I've learned.

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