It’s that time of year again. Thin mints, Do-si-dos, Samoas to name a few. Those innocent little Girl Scouts are peddling their wares … tempting cookies loaded with fat and sugar. Seeing “Girl Scout Cookies” show up on my clients food logs…
I hate to admit this, but I can be very lazy when it comes to some things. In most areas of my life, I am super motivated. I’ll stay up until 1 am writing a blog post or surfing the web to find the perfect matching furniture for my office ( I am slightly obsessed with matching – see pics). But when it comes to food shopping or cooking – I am LAZY! It may sound strange to hear this from a nutritionist, but it’s true! I think it’s because I am so tired at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is wash/slice/dice/cook or wait in long supermarket lines. I know that many of you are the same way. But it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You just need to find a way to make it work for you like I did. Being the “realistic” nutritionist that I am, I am here to problem solve how to stay lean if you too tired to cook/lazy to cook.
We all know what it’s like to get home from a long day at work and have no interest in cooking. We either skip eating a real dinner and graze all night (which probably has more calories than eating a real dinner) OR we dial for dinner … and probably not the healthiest choices. Too many take out dinners can pack on the pounds. But you can change this!
Identify your problem areas
First, figure out what your specific problems are with regards to eating healthy with a busy schedule. These are mine:
– Do not want to clean/slice/dice at night (well maybe I could wash something, but no major prep work. I almost had a nervous breakdown when I ordered Blue Apron. More on that at another post)
– When it comes to buying food, I don’t want to walk more than 3 blocks out of my way after getting out of work at night. Yup – I’ve been known to shop at Duane Reade
– Do not want to bring lunch to work. Too much work
– Will probably forget to bring healthy snacks to work
– I sit for extended periods at work (this has nothing to do with cooking, but it still affects your weight/health
– May order out not-so-healthy take out at night if there is no food in my apartment
#1. I investigated my food options on my direct route home from work. For me, this was key as I didn’t to go out of my way to shop at night. A priority for me is to eat more vegetables at night as they are healthy and low in calories – so I can eat huge portions! I checked out several places and here is what I found:
– Grace’s Market recently moved 1 block away from my apartment and it’s on my way home from work. I found these Zucchini Spirals that I love. They already cleaned and spiraled! All I have to do is sauté them in a little olive oil, add some grated cheese and I have a huge plate of food that is filling and healthy. Total time to prepare/cook: 4 minutes Note: I
have a vegetable spiralizer that I rarely use (see my video) because it is too much effort. I store it in my dishwasher. See pic
– I checked out Gourmet Garage. It’s on my way home from the gym so I don’t have to go out of the way. I found a few good products. I am obsessed with Brussels sprouts but they take too long to roast at night. Gourmet Garage has shaved Brussel Sprouts. When they are shaved, I don’t have to slice/dice. Again, add a little olive oil and lemon and they cook up nice and brown like roasted Brussels. Cooking time: 4 minutes. Gourmet Garage also has premade meals that have either grilled chicken or salmon, a vegetable and a small portion of starch like quinoa. Heats up 5 minutes or less in the microwave (see pic above). The grilled salmon, kale and wheatberries is my favorite.
#2. Pick up healthy snacks on my way into the office. On my way to work, I pass a produce vendor (well, maybe not in
snowstorms) and newspaper stand. I grab an apple and mini pack of almonds. Zero effort and I don’t have to walk out of the way.
#3. I wear an activity tracker to motivate/humiliate myself to walk more. I continue to use my fitbit Charge daily. I end up walking 10,000 steps most days of the week, mainly because of the fitbit.
#5. Find healthy lunch options near your office that will deliver to you. There are several places near my office that are my “go to” options. Small soup and ½ sandwich or big salad. My favorite place is Gotham Café. (pic credit Alice) Knowing that I can get a healthy tasty lunch delivered to my office within 15 minutes helps me resist when my co-workers orders out pizza or Chinese food. Stay tuned for my updated Lunch on the Run Survival guide for over 100 healthy lunch choices.
Bottom line, I have found a way to make my lazy food habits work for me – and you can too. The trick is to be really aware of what your specific problem areas are and to research your neighborhood. Convenience and planning are key. Find a way to fit these healthy food choices into your routine so it will become a habit. This will discourage you from turning to not so healthy snacks and take out foods. For me, it’s all about CONVENIENCE! Stay thin without spending hours in the kitchen.
For those of you who read my blog, you’ve likely seen various posts about my “issues” with chocolate and/or sugar. I bet many of you have the same issues so you can relate. But as a nutritionist, my job is to problem solve (including my own problems) – so here goes! I’ve come up with a solution that’s helping me tame my sugar cravings. Read what I’m doing and and see how it may help you.
Like most of you, I tend to work 10+ hour days and don’t have a lot of time to think about food. I get home late and have a quick dinner. That’s when the trouble starts. I’ll comb through my miniature kitchen in search of something sweet. The ridiculous thing, is like most New Yorkers, I don’t keep much food in my apartment. These are the few staples I always have on hand: coffee, Greek Yogurt, 2% plain and flavored, Fiber One Cereal, apples or other fruit and some kind of sweetener for my coffee. I rarely keep tempting snack foods around. So what am I hoping to find? Despite the fact I keep minimal food in my apartment, I would still manage to find something sugary. (pic credit)
First of all, I have no problem with having a healthy snack after dinner. I often help my clients plan healthy snacks for this time. But here is what annoys me – I would be looking for something sweet while not being remotely hungry. And once I started with something sweet, I often wanted more. BTW – when I say “sweet”, I don’t mean fruit. Here are my specific problem areas:
My problem scenarios:
1. I am obsessed with Chobani Coconut and Key Lime 2% flavors. So if I keep more than one of them in my refrigerator, chances are I will have more than one. This would not happen if the yogurt was a plain yogurt. So …
2. I would try to trick myself by only buying plain Fage 2% as that doesn’t appeal to me as a snack (it’s a breakfast!) But I would find some kind of sweetener in the cabinet and then it would become appealing.
3. If the store ran out of my boring Fiber One cereal, I would buy an alternative “healthy” cereal that may or may not have a slight sugar taste
– if it had a sugar taste, I would have a bowl or two (likely two)
– if it didn’t have a sugar taste, I would add sugar to sweeten it up
4. When my boyfriend comes over, he likes to bring me “treats” of two flavored yogurts – both the Chobani coconut and lime flavors. I have asked him several times not to bring me both, but he does (just being nice!) Back to problem area #1!
My plan of action:
So I realized I needed to make some changes to tame my sugar cravings. Here is what I did:
1.Gave up sweeteners for the coffee. This was my first step. For years, I had needed to keep a sweetener in my apartment because I didn’t like plain coffee. I would use either real sugar or Splenda (gulp!) But I went cold turkey on any kind of sweetener in my coffee exactly one year ago. I was at an Integrative Health Symposium at a coffee break. I had just heard a great lecture on how artificial sweeteners may alter the good bacteria in your gut. Based on this knowledge plus the fact I was surrounded by health gurus at the coffee table, I decided right then and there to give up putting any kind of sweetener in my coffee. The main pic on this blog is me at the Integrative Health Preconference at the Hilton, NYC just a few days ago.
2. Replaced sweetener with cinnamon in my coffee. I love this! Studies also show cinnamon may lower blood sugar
3. Got all sweeteners out of my apartment. Now that I no longer needed it for coffee, there was no reason to keep it around
4. . Only buy boring Fiber One cereal. As an example, I got home late last night and popped into Duane Reade to pick up cereal (yes – it is a bit strange that a nutritionist sometimes shops at Duane Reade!) No Fiber One. In the past I might have bought Go Lean Crunch instead. Nope. I’ll buy Fiber One someplace else tomorrow.
5. Re-directed the boyfriend. Since he ENJOYS bringing me little food “gifts”, I redirected him. Last week I specifically asked for grapefruits. So that is what I got!
6. I may still buy the flavored yogurt, but I get only one at time.
I have gotten all added sugar out of my apartment. The result? My “apartment sugar cravings” are gone because I know there is nothing sweet in my apartment. I find that when you keep sweet foods around, it’s like a tiny part of your brain knows it’s there. And you don’t forget it. Even if you are occupied doing something else at home, that little voice can call out to you at any given time. So if you are having sugar cravings, I would suggest you identify the specific problem areas like I did and come up with a plan. If possible, keep your home free from added sugars. I really think that you will find that once you decrease your intake of sweets, your cravings will start to subside.
Now if only I could get my colleagues in my office to make it a chocolate free zone I’d be all set! See my previous post/video on Dealing with Sugar Cravings in My Office
Do any of you have problems with sweet cravings at home?
If you need any help with problem solving in your diet, call me or email me for a consultation!