one of the industry trade magazines’ newsletters i get came into my inbox today with some great articles, but this one in particular hits home. as you know, diet is a big, HUGE part in getting a healthy body and getting clear skin. read on to find out the value of fresh food, home-packed lunches and a bunch of great (mostly) acne-safe snack ideas!
The Conscientious Eater
By Merri Lou Dobler, MS,RD,CD
Conscientious eating means putting time and effort into something that brings you health and well-being. Putting in a little extra effort in the kitchen means you will be able to look forward to a lunch of nutrient-rich foods that satisfy you and give you the nutrition you need for all the therapies that you perform all day.
My daughter in high school probably salivates over what is in her lunch during her entire morning class routine, and then she delights in delving into it. She enjoys leftover cold spaghetti, a container of baked beans or potato salad, bite-sized fresh fruit, an occasional Greek-style yogurt, and her water bottle. She looks forward to some leftover thin-crust Hawaiian pizza, pasta salad, cherry tomatoes or celery sticks, banana/pear/tangerine slices, a vegetable salad, and applesauce. Life is good when your lunch has all your favorites.
Examine Your Patterns and Make the Investment in Better Eating
As an adult, you get breaks for quick meals too, and can appreciate how nice it is to have time to relax. Perhaps without being aware of it, over the years you have learned how to pick out the conscientious eater, who is just as interested in what is packed in their lunch bag as they are looking forward to eating it. Conscientious eating may not be your personal everyday style, but it’s clearly a pattern for someone who values mealtime as a nutrient power-punch time. It’s pretty easy to see who has this consciousness: those who pack homemade soups or salads exemplify the high end of awareness, as compared to those who eat frozen quick-grab meals or canned items that pop into the microwave, which are examples of the low end of high nutrient food preparation.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of some prepackaged refrigerated items and canned foods during those fast breaks on long days. Consider packaged broccoli slaw with your favorite dressing, canned salmon with diced red onion and a little mayonnaise, sliced apples with almond butter, prepared pomegranate seeds with rice crackers, a green smoothie (bring a mini-blender and a handful of mixed greens, half a frozen banana and water), string cheese with a mandarin orange, diced avocado with a squirt of lime juice and cherry tomatoes, a miso soup packet with hot water and a breakfast bar. My all-time favorite quick foods can be prepared with minimal prep time and divided between breaks – a few Medjool dates, a carton of Greek yogurt, a zipper bag of snap peas, English cucumber, a firm pear, and a handful of sunflower seeds.
Many of us vacillate between feeling we have time to do the things that feel important to us; yet over time we develop pretty set behaviors about what we end up putting in our lunch and – aside from the perennial peanut butter sandwich lover – enjoy mixing it up a bit. Our brains are geared to the neuron jump game of planning a work time meal the same way we plan our other meals.
Sometimes, however, a different tool makes a difference, such as using an insulated food container for the homemade black bean soup you made in your time-saver pressure cooker, which are getting more and more popular for busy folks. My daughter really likes the colorful BPA-free sandwich containers that don’t squish her tuna fish sandwich, and she enjoys opening up the compartmentalized containers too, which are perfect for people who don’t like different foods to touch! My daughter enjoys choosing between sections of sliced kiwi fruit, cucumber pieces, and three-bean salad, or maybe her favorite halved hard-boiled eggs. You can pack them easily in your backpack as you leave in the morning and not worry that it will be a compressed mess hours later. A conscientious eater pays attention to the details of food choices because it means something to him or her. Eating brings such pleasure to your day, doesn’t it?
Notice what makes someone else’s meal appealing. It may simply mean you need to add a new food to your grocery list. For our family, it is automatic to pick up a few red potatoes for potato salad while in the produce department. We look for seasonal fruits to add variety, although we can never go wrong with pineapple.
Consider the “Extras”
It’s the extras in a lunch that make for a conscientious meal. Perhaps a small container of unsalted cashews adds an extra energy boost to an afternoon snack, or a combination fruit cup of sliced orange and grapefruit pieces, which adds a vitamin C serving. Blueberries and raspberries in season, a packaged salad mix with an added avocado sliced at mealtime and a small container of chopped red onion or canned pinto beans adds the spark that draws you in. And while a primary characteristic of a conscientious eater is the quality and quantity of vegetables they eat, some conscientious eaters save their whole grain choice for later in the day and are happy to heat up cooked steel-cut oatmeal topped with sliced apples, walnuts and rice milk.
Valuing Fresh Foods
It is the nutrient quality of fresh foods that offer value to your immune system, especially when at least one meal of the day is a salad – a HUGE salad with lots of items added to a variety of deep green lettuces. Top your salad with fresh or cooked vegetables, such as mushrooms, onions, asparagus and broccoli, and then use a citrus fruit such as orange slices as your dressing along with an avocado for the good kind of fat. More time spent thoroughly chewing your salads means you get more nutrition from the breakdown of the salad greens’ cell walls, since that is where nutrients are stored. You can see how good you are at chewing by taking a bite of spinach, for example, and chewing it as you normally would. Spit it out in your hand before swallowing to see just how much more work is needed to chew it to small, small pieces.
A little goes a long way. Why not take the extra time to take care of yourself. Your body will appreciate it and so will your clients. You will have renewed strength to give your very best.
Merri Lou Dobler, MS,RD,CD