Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Finding the perfect food plan

Photo courtesy of Outside Magazine. 

I stumbled across this article that appeared in Outside magazine a few years ago. This man tried 6 different diet plans over the course of a year, two months on each plan. He chose popular diet plans like the paleo diet, the Mediterranean diet, and one based on the USDA food pyramid. He had his cholesterol, body fat and weight measured during and at the end of each diet.  His health improved on some diets, declined on others. He was more hungry and tired on one diet compared to the others. It was a very interesting experiment in food, and I like the final analysis. There is no one ideal eating plan for anyone.Our bodies and our goals (fitness, weight loss, over all health) are all different and our food plans should be too. Do you know what works for you?

Our eating plan of choice is mostly the Mediterranean diet (they had me at the red wine!) with juice or smoothies for breakfast and copious cheating on the weekends. We try to eat with the seasons and use local produce whenever possible. We love to cook and we enjoy all things in moderation. It's pretty simple, really.

We eat the way we do because we enjoy the food and we want to be healthy. And I also want to pass on healthy food habits to my children. I try not to present foods to the kids as healthy or good for them (I learned that trick from this article). I simply give them the same foods Ryan and I are eating and ask them to try a 'polite bite.' We leave it at that. They either like it and eat it, or they don't like it and leave it on their plates. If I keep serving that item regularly and giving it to the kids without comment, I've noticed that they eventually eat it. Without trying too hard, we've managed to get to a point where we have one meal at family dinners and the kids like what we're having. It feels like a success and I'm calling it such!

We struggled with family dinners for a long time (I wrote about it here and here). Perhaps the kids are finally at an age where it works - they can occupy themselves while I make dinner and they are old enough to appreciate the family time together. We are in that happy space where school activities are not crowding out dinner time, so I plan to enjoy it while I can.

A big issue impacting our waist lines today is portion size. This article and the accompanying photos of what 2000 calories look like are mind boggling.



The photo above shows what 2000 calories look like at the sandwich chain Potbelly.



And this pasta dinner adds up to 2000 calories at Olive Garden. The Cheesecake Factory has one single dish on its menu totaling 2000 calories!

In contrast, if you cook at home, this is what 2000 calories could look like, food for an entire day!

The take home message - if you cook it yourself, you know exactly what you are eating and you are likely to consume fewer total calories at each sitting. Something to think about.

Food photos courtesy of The New York Times.

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