I recently decided that I need to take a new approach to what I eat on a daily basis. After looking closely at the meals I eat each day, I realized that there was way too much refined sugar in my diet. I was feeling crappy and looking crappy. It really hit home when I received my half marathon photos. I didn’t realize just how much weight I was putting on.
I thought I was doing things right, but what I didn’t realize all these months is that I’m just not eating enough protein. Being a vegetarian, it often takes careful planning to get sufficient protein in the meals that I eat. I realized that I was eating way too many carbs – pasta, rice, candy, almond milk (the kind with loads of added sugar), etc. I was hungry all of the time, which makes sense since carbs are quicker to digest than protein. I knew I needed to make a change.
I decided that for six days a week (I allow myself one cheat day), I will only eat sugar that comes from fruit and veggies. All other sugar is off limits. I am a lot more conscious of my protein intake, as well. I make sure that I’m eating some kind of protein in each meal (including snacks).
I replaced my sugar-filled breakfast smoothie with plain oatmeal, a large spoonful of all natural peanut butter, and blueberries. It’s so satisfying, and I feel full a lot longer.
For lunch and dinner, I’ve been rotating tofu with roasted summer squash (zucchini and yellow squash) and black bean veggie burger salad.
Another big change I made is my liquid calories. I was drinking smoothies once or twice a day. These consisted of high sugar chocolate almond milk, one banana, and two tablespoons of peanut butter. Much too much. I tried unsweetened almond milk, but just couldn’t stomach the taste, even after sweetening it with fruit and vanilla extract. Almond milk is also on the pricey side, and I decided it was just costing to0 much, both financially and to my health.
I switched out the smoothies with water and lemon, or just plain water. Since I don’t drink soda or juice, this switch wasn’t too difficult. Many people can’t stand the taste of plain water, but I love it. At lunch or dinner, I add the juice of one lemon to my water. It is so refreshing and adds extra vitamin C to my diet. I also plan on experimenting with different fruits this summer.
For snacks, I try to each fruit with nuts or just a spoonful of peanut butter. I love, love, love peanut butter! I could eat it morning, noon, and night if I wasn’t worried about my waistline.
I also have been much more disciplined with taking vitamin supplements each day. The last time I visited the doctor and had blood work done, I had a severe vitamin D deficiency and I had to take a prescription supplement. I also need to make sure I get an adequate amount of calcium to keep my bones strong. I was getting enough calcium by drinking the almond milk, but since I cut that out I needed to make sure I was taking my vitamins consistently. I used to take huge horse pill supplements that I had a hard time stomaching. They would make me really nauseous. Mark found great calcium/vitamin D fruit flavored gummies that have no gelatin (important for vegetarians). I also found a great chewable multivitamin at Trader Joe’s that I take daily.
I have to admit the changes have been tough, but definitely worth it. I was at my heaviest weight of 158 pounds in April. Today, I’m down to 144 pounds. I still have some work to do; I’m 5’2 and my doctor said my healthy weight should be in the range of 110-120 pounds. I’m in no rush to lose the extra weight. I want to do this as healthy as possible. This is about a lifestyle change and not just a quick fix. My goal is to be an my ideal weight, but more importantly feel great, by my 35th birthday next February. I’m headed in the right direction.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor or dietitian. My food choices are based on my personal nutritional needs. Please consult your doctor for nutrition choices that are best for your personal needs.