Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Lunch right with every bite (Guest Blogger Cathie Tedrick)

Lunch right with every bite… That was the motto for this year’s National Healthy Lunch Day, celebrated by people across Washington yesterday, November 17th. So, the idea is to eat a nutritious, balanced midday meal every day. Sounds easy enough, right? Not always!

If you’re anything like me, busy lives often make it hard to take the time to make healthy choices. Picking up lunch from some fast food joint that’s just minutes away is just too dang convenient and tempting. But when my waistline started growing and I often found myself with more month left than money, I started thinking I should change my ways.

Then, in mid-July during a routine checkup my doctor told me my blood pressure was high and that she was concerned about my increased weight. Combined with my age and family history of diabetes, she recommended blood tests. When I went back a couple weeks later, my blood pressure was still elevated and the tests showed that my cholesterol was high. But what took my breath away was when the doctor said I had prediabetes. Working in the Department of Health’s Heart Disease, Stroke and Diabetes Prevention Program, I knew full well what that meant. Still, I listened numbly as she talked about lifestyle changes I could make to prevent, or at least slow down the progression of getting type 2 diabetes. She said I’d have to get my weight down, and the best way to do that is:

1: Eat a healthy diet. 2: Increase physical activity.

My body had spoken and it was time to do something!

Not wanting to overwhelm myself by trying to do it all at once, I decided to tackle increasing physical activity. With our amazing summer weather, getting up early and walking my dog three days a week was pretty easy to do. I soon found myself looking forward to getting up every morning to enjoy the peacefulness of the cool morning air. As an extra bonus, my energy level stayed up longer throughout the day. My “doggie alarm” now faithfully goes off every morning around 5:30. In the four months since I increased my walking, I’m down 25 pounds, have dropped three pant sizes, and notice more muscle tone. Yay!

But of course, I cannot attribute my success just to walking. On August 1, I made a commitment to eat healthier. First, I started by cutting out all types of fast food and easy to prepare packaged foods. I resolved to cook everything from scratch and make sure I’d have enough to take leftovers for lunch the next day. It was fun trying new recipes out on my kids and seeing which got thumbs up and which were, “nope!” After a few weeks of getting back into the swing of cooking, I decided it was time to cut down on sugar, and replace highly processed grains like white bread and pasta with whole grains. At the same time, I increased fruits and vegetables at meal and snack time. I’m not gonna lie, it was tough for the first couple weeks, but now it’s a breeze. And even though buying fresh fruits and vegetables can be more expensive than processed foods at the grocery store, I notice that I have a lot more money in my checking account from cutting out the fast food lunches.

MY recipe for success…prepare your healthy food ahead of time!
I love salad, especially when it’s full of a variety of veggies, fruits, and nuts. So, every Sunday I grocery shop and then chop up all my favorites, dividing the salad into six servings – one for dinner that night, and five containers that I can just pull out of the fridge and pop into my lunch bag. I throw-in a low-sugar Greek yogurt, apple, and cheese stick for snacks, and one of my favorite homemade salad dressings, along with a cold pack and away I go! At work I always have some unsalted sesame seeds, almonds and walnuts, no-sugar-added-canned fruit, and canned chicken or tuna to add to my salad, along with some high fiber/low-sodium crackers in case I get the munchies. 

Now you may be thinking…umm, that’s sounds like you’re eating the same thing for lunch every day. And, yes, for the most part I am. But for me, that’s how I’m able to stick to my plan to eat a healthy lunch during the work week. However, I do enjoy shaking it up a little, so I will often add other things to my salad to give it a different flair – such as peppercini’s, kidney beans, avocado, a little shredded cheese, and even grapes! I’ve also become more adventurous when I eat out – ordering the most creatively put together salad on the menu.

The American Diabetes Association’s Healthy Living Resources has great healthy lunch ideas. Let’s use National Healthy Lunch Day to start having “lunch right with every bite” every day.

1 comment:

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