Keeping It Real

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Forget The Gimmicks

Mag Reissue, bKathy Ireland, MS, RD, LDN

‘Tis the season for New Year’s Resolutions. And, about 3 weeks from now many of us will be struggling to keep them. By Valentine’s Day, most plans to eat healthier, exercise more, and lose weight will be little more than a distant memory. I don’t mean to be a pessimist—just a realist. The reason why most of us fail with our resolutions, especially the ones to eat better/ exercise more, is because we seek a quick fix. We hop on to the latest craze, go at it full force, then for some reason or other we stop. And stay stalled out.

What we already know (but don’t like to acknowledge) is that being healthy people isn’t a quick fix. It’s about adopting lifestyle changes that we keep for—wait for it—LIFE (gasp)! Sure, making changes that you need to keep FOREVER can seem overwhelming, but you don’t need to make them all at once. Here are my tips to get you started on a healthier New Year, and here’s to hoping that by next Christmas they’ll simply be your way of life.

1. Avoid popular/fad diets that call for eliminating entire food groups or types of foods. I don’t care if it’s Paleo, Wheat Belly, or South Beach. There are lots of people out there who swear by these diets. They have changed their lives and helped them lose lots of weight—they feel better, they are happier, and life is now wonderful thanks to rigidly following [insert fad diet name here]. I won’t say that some of these diets don’t have their benefits or that they don’t lead to weight loss and healthier/happier lives for some people, but they are not entirely balanced because they call for eliminating an entire food group or set of foods. You’ll be hard pressed to find a registered dietitian to promote any of these diets in their entirety and that’s for two main reasons: 1) they are hard to keep forever and 2) we strongly believe that all foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle and there is plenty of science to back that up. If you seek the rigidity of following a specific diet, consider the ones that are a bit less trendy, but more nutritionally sound like The DASH Diet or MyPlate.

2. Watch out for products that seem too good to be true. The other day my father, a junk food junkie, proudly told me of a new healthy candy that Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen were promoting. Healthy candy? I did my research and found out that he was talking about a product called Unreal Candy. It’s made from all natural ingredients—no dyes, no corn syrup, no trans fats. From what I can tell from its website, it truly is a superior candy. I bet it tastes good too! But, at the end of the day, it’s still candy. It still contains sugar and fats and things our bodies do not need a whole lot of all at once. Sure, if you’re going to eat candy, this is the way to go—I’m all for avoiding overly processed stuff as much as possible (see #3 below) – but to call this candy healthy is a bit extreme. Let’s call it healthier and eat it no more often than we would our regular candy. Beware of other such products—they’re everywhere and while they are likely superior to their counterparts of the mainstream variety they are not a free pass to eat limitless quantities. Sorry!

3. Keep your diet simple. Focus on whole foods and only buy packaged goods with minimal ingredients. Actually, there’s a “fad diet” that has caught onto this simple phenomenon and it’s called “Clean Eating.” (Give any simple concept a catchy name and market it appropriately and suddenly it’s popular and people want to do it!) I love this style of eating because it’s normal, it’s natural, and the only things it tells you not to eat are things that are overly processed in a factory before being boxed/bagged/ canned. I could write a whole article on this topic (hmmm – maybe next month), but instead I’ll leave you with 2 of my favorite recipes that apply this concept.

Steel Cut Oats with Raisins and Slivered Almonds

4 cups water
1 cup steel cut oats
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Bring water to a boil. Slowly stir in the oats. After 5 minutes, reduce heat to a simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add raisins and cinnamon and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and mix in slivered almonds. Serve with milk if desired. (Recipe serves 4)

Whole Chicken in a Crockpot

1 large whole chicken
1 onion, sliced, abut ¼ inch thick
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Place sliced onions in the bottom of the crock pot. Mix spices together and rub all over chicken. Place chicken in crock pot on top of sliced onions. Cook on high for 4-5 hours (for a 3-4 pound bird) or on low for 6-8 hours (or until the chicken is falling off the bone). That’s it—you’re done. Serve with some green veggies and a starch—I vote for roasted sweet potatoes and sautéed spinach!

Kathy Ireland is The Level’s resident dietician. She is taking on new clients if you would like her help in the New Year. This article was originally published in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Level Renner. New issue (#15) is coming out in a matter of days now. Do you have your free subscription yet? Subscribers are alerted as soon as each issue is published and are also eligible to win awesome prize packs each month.

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