Week 8 Challenge — Stop Eating When You Are Full

OK, so you might be thinking “DUH! Of course I stop eating when I feel full.” Well, for many people this is not so easy. Whether it is the deliciousness of a meal or that their plate isn’t yet empty or maybe they eat so fast, they don’t realize they’re full until they’re stuffed, some people haven’t learned  how (or more accurately, have lost the ability) to tune in to what their belly is saying. If you are one of those people that often finds yourself rolling away from the table groaning because you are so full rather than simply content and satisfied, maybe a few tips will help.

  • Eating a healthy meal full of flavor will help you to feel more satisfied than a pile of monotonous junk. More nutrition for your body will leave your belly happy, more flavor from a variety of healthy ingredients and herbs will make your tongue and mind happy.
  • Using a smaller plate can kind of trick your mind into feeling like you have eaten more. My eyes see an empty plate, must mean I’m finished. We only use the giant 10″ dinner plates for special occasions, when we have company. We use 8″ plates for nearly all of our regular meals.
  • Serve appropriately sized portions. Put any leftovers away immediately so you are less tempted to go back for seconds.
  • Slowing down while you eat will give your body time to recognize that your stomach is full. It can take 20 minutes for this message to get from your stomach to your brain. Please check out this interesting article to better understand the effect of the hormone leptin on appetite.
  • Since you’re slowing down anyhow, have a seat at the table with your family and reconnect each day. Studies that show the positive impact that daily family mealtime can have on kids I imagine, it has little to do with the sitting. I’m sure it’s more about the strengthening of relationships. People in many countries will spend hours together around the table for a meal, eating small portions and enjoying each other’s company. I think that also contributes to leaving the table content and satisfied.
  • Many people have grown accustomed to snacking all day and are confusing hunger for what is actually thirst. If you are hungry between filling meals, try drinking some water first, before having a snack. This is not to imply that snacking is bad. It might very well be good to have healthy snacks. But drinking a glass of water will help you to better listen to your body’s messages. Are you really hungry or just low on fluids?

This challenge is all about moderation. A tough challenge for some of us. Do you have any ideas you employ to practice moderation?

Weekly Challenges 5, 6 & 7 — Catching up

I am way behind here on posting for these last couple of weeks, so I’m going to try to catch up here.

Week 5 — No Non-fat, Low fat or Light (lite) Foods. We succeeded quite well. The only transgression was that our youngest ate the one individual serving of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt we had in the fridge for a snack. We won’t mention the “light” tea Hubby had the day after that week ended. 🙂 I have posted a recipe for ice cream made with an ice cream maker. I had hoped to make some cheese and or yogurt, but life beyond the blog got too busy. I will let you know as soon as I do though.

Week 6 — Try 2 New Whole Foods. I actually switched weeks 5 & 6, knowing we would be out of town at a family reunion at which I would have little say in what we ate. I figured we could get those 2 new foods in early in the week before we left. Well, we succeeded, though it wasn’t quite as easy as I thought. For years, I have had the habit of bringing home a new food for the family to try. So, Hubby went to Jungle Jim’s to find some new foods in their one acre produce department. Surely there would be plenty of options. As it turns out, the options for in season produce that we had not tried before was limited. We ended up with canary melon and casaba melon. The canary melon was, you guessed it, bright yellow on the outside and a lighter yellow inside. It tasted very much like slightly salty cantaloupe. Worth having again, though I do prefer other melons. The casaba melon was yellow tinged with green on the outside and light green on the inside, like the inside of a cucumber. It also smelled very much like a cucumber with that same coolness. The flavor was I guess you would say mild (very little flavor). It won’t be a highly requested item at our house. Early this week we had fresh figs, which is also new to us, believe it or not. We sliced them in half topped with mascarpone and a little drizzle of honey. My picky eater loved them, as did Hubby and I. My good eater wasn’t impressed. I look forward to some more new foods we haven’t tried yet, like dragon fruit, when it is in season. I posted a recipe for a yummy salad (Mediterranean?) that we really like for a cool summer lunch or dinner.

Week 7 — Only 100% Whole Grains. This seemed like it would be easy because we buy 100% whole grains almost entirely for home. We found out though, it is nearly impossible to get a meal at most restaurants and get 100% whole grains. Think croutons on salad, bread on a sandwich, crust on a pizza or breading on fried okra (we stopped at Cracker Barrel on our way home from the reunion to load up on veggies, mmmm). Even things called “whole grain” are likely not 100% whole grain. 100 Days of Real Food has a good guide to Understanding Grains. This week’s challenge pretty much kept us out of restaurants (I think that’s part of the point though, huh?), though the couple of times we did eat out, we realized our transgression during the meal.  I have posted a recipe for 100% whole grain carrot cake muffins, made with no non- or low fat ingredients and with maple syrup instead of sugar. Oh so delicious!  I also made some granola bars to take on the trip that turned out pretty well. It is a modification of the 100 Days of Real Food granola. We used steel cut oats, lots of seeds, a few raisins and no nuts. My family is thankful that popcorn is whole grain! I will be making my own 100% whole grain bread soon too. I had hoped to do that this week, but again, life and all… I’ll be trying pita and ciabatta as well as corn, I believe. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

With this week coming to a close, we end the challenges based around the major food groups. The remaining challenges are about fats, sweeteners, habits and packaged foods. If you have been joining us in any of these challenges, I’d love to hear how it’s been going for you. Do you have any tips to make these challenges an everyday thing?

Month 1: Budget Busted

Here is a summary of our food cost for the first 4 weeks of the challenges.

Cost at stores/restaurants:$ 767.12

Used from Pantry, fridge & freezer: about $100

Purchased during these weeks still in Pantry, fridge & freezer: at least $120

Almost $80 over a monthly SNAP benefit. I really need to trim that down quite a bit. 😦

This includes $151.34 for eating out. Even though we didn’t pay for all of that, I have included the cost because we did eat it. I realize food stamp benefits doesn’t cover going to restaurants, but the cost to prepare something similar at home would be a great deal less and make the budget even more manageable. I also did this without coupons. Not because I don’t like coupons, in fact I used to clip coupons every week. I appreciate being able to save when possible and I did purchase things on sale this month. But there are a few reasons that I didn’t use coupons:

  • What I purchase has changed some this summer. Very little of the “real food” I purchase has coupons available.
  • I tend to buy store brands when a good one is available. Coupons are not easily found for store brands, except maybe for some that might print at the register when you are at that store or the store’s ad (usually found online). I also purchase more from bulk bins which are way cheaper than packaged. Similarly, they usually don’t come with coupons.
  • It is summer, the growing and harvesting season. Whether at markets, CSAs or other means, I am getting more food directly from farmers. In fact, our eggs, our meat, a good part of our produce, and some of our cheese and grains we get directly from the farmer. I have never had a coupon from a farmer (at least not yet 🙂 ), though some might offer a discount on a large purchase.
  • My time and health are just as valuable as the amount saved on a coupon. It is summertime and I am determined not to have a stressful summer. I did that last year with too many projects taking way too much of my time. It affected my health, my mood and the condition of my home for the following several months. In fact, I think I’m still trying to get my house fully recovered. I have just been busy doing other things so far. Please don’t think I’m up on a soap box here. I just have seen that some avenues of finding coupons will suck up your time quickly and I want to enjoy my family.

As I said though, I do appreciate saving a buck. It is in my blood and how I was raised. So, I did begin looking for coupons online, searching by the few national brands I do purchase. I found a few $1 for 1 item coupons in a short time. I won’t spend a lot of time doing this, but it will be worth a few minutes. I did this by doing a search with the product name followed by “coupon”. I tried looking at 3 coupon websites, but only 1 allowed me to do a search without signing up and it didn’t have anything for the  products I tried — Sunbutter, yogurt, orange juice, Izze and Cheerios. I know what days the various specials are posted for the stores I shop at and I will continue to look at the ads online to shop sales and for coupons that I will use. Also, I have learned that stores will give a case discount (5-10%). So, if I think we will eat/freeze 2 dozen mangoes before they go bad, great. If I think we will eat a dozen cans of tuna before the expiration date in 2 years or whatever, then that is worth it. Some stores will give you this discount even for sale items. Maybe we can bring the cost of our “real food” below SNAP benefits this month…

I believe a meal plan does indeed save money also, but I have not done well with that at all these last few weeks. I will work on that this month. Not knowing for certain what will be harvested and available, having some flexibility is also good. Finding ways to use even the smallest amount of leftovers saves as well. Hubby used to laugh at me for saving just a couple tablespoons of something. Ingenuity and recipes that can adjust to what you have on hand are great tools.

What other ways do you save when shopping for food?

Meat and dairy options

I found an article showing there has been some research supporting the healthfulness of animal fat in our diets. It says the animal fats help the body absorb other nutrients. I do believe there are genetics to consider with that article and that maybe their recommended intake could be too high for many of us. Also, I am not here to tell anyone to go against their convictions, just providing information for your consideration. Though some nutrients can be more difficult to include in a person’s diet without animal sources, vegetarians & vegans of course can be very healthy. I just want to include the possibility for consideration that meat can be a healthy option when chosen appropriately and eaten in moderation.

In addition to the options of conventional or organic, there are a couple of other choices you have in choosing meat and dairy.

For meat, eggs and dairy, grass-fed is an option. There is information all over the web from Reuters to the American Grassfed Association showing evidence that grass fed animals are a healthier option. Milk from grass fed cows is higher in conjugated linoleic acid and omega 3s, especially full fat milk. There is also much evidence that cattle fed mostly grain can produce an acid resistant form of E. coli, able to survive the human digestive tract. There is some evidence that products (meat, milk or eggs) from animals that eat corn or soy can cause issues for people with allergies to those foods. Some believe the amount of soy in our diets has contributed recently to the earlier onset of puberty in girls. If you watched the Food, Inc. movie, you might have seen other reasons to consider changing to grass-fed beef.

Free range kind of goes along with grass fed. Usually, an animal allowed out to pasture will be eating the grass available there, though they might also be given grain too. If possible, ask the farmer what percentage of the animals’ diet is grain. The health benefits will be passed on to and through cows, goats, milk, chickens (and their eggs), lambs… There is also belief that because animals are meant to be free to roam the pasture it is therefore more humane to the animals. They will be happier and therefore healthier, providing healthier products.

Hormone free (added/artificial) and antibiotic free are other options. It is believed the hormones and antibiotics can be passed on to humans through consumption of animals that have been given hormones or antibiotics. As it is, many doctors have been more judicious in prescribing antibiotics to curb development of superbugs.

Some other options for meat are cloned meat and lab produced meat. While I love science and what we can learn about the world around us, I’m going to leave animal creation to God. 😛

There are still a few other options for dairy.

It is illegal to purchase raw milk (not pasteurized) in most states, but you can consume it if you own the cow (or goat or whatever). No room on your balcony? Neighborhood association doesn’t allow cattle? In Ohio, you can get raw milk by purchasing herd shares, wherein you purchase a share of a herd, tended to by farmers on their property. It is believed that pasteurization destroys much of the healthfulness of milk, including the protein and lactase (helps aid in digestion of lactose). On the down side, because the milk isn’t pasteurized, none of the bacteria is eliminated, good or bad. I believe the generations of people who drank milk this way fared quite well. They had more control as not only the owners, but also tending to the animals. Their cows were healthy and produced healthy milk. If you make this choice, be sure to choose a farmer in whom you feel confident. There are many people passionate about this issue. I am posting information for individuals to make up their own minds. You can get more information at Real Milk.

The milk we have recently started using is an HTST (high temp, short time pasteurized), non-homogenized from Snowville Creamery. It is believed HTST is a nice middle between the ultra pasteurized milk most often found in stores and raw milk. It is brought to about 170 degrees F for less than 20 seconds. It kills most of the harmful bacteria (about the same as ultra pasteurized) without killing the good bacteria and doesn’t destroy the proteins and other nutrients as much as ultra pasteurization does. Non-homogenized just means the fat molecules aren’t blasted so that they mix into the milk, less processed. The cream will rise on non-homogenized milk.

While there is still debate on all of these issues, it is worth taking some time to consider your options for providing nutrition for yourself and your family.

Week 5 No Nonfat, Low Fat or Lite

Ok, so you’re thinking “I thought you were trying to eat healthier, and you’re going to eliminate low fat and non fat foods?” I know it has become counter-intuitive for us to think of full fat foods as health foods. I had been using fat free milk for years and low fat cheese too (the fat free stuff might as well be dry rotted rubber bands :P). The idea here is that the fuller fat version is less processed. There is natural nutrition in the fat that is stripped out and then added back artificially because the nutrients are important for our health. In some cases, the fat is being replaced with chemicals or processed foods such as added sugar or corn starch to make it taste good or give the expected consistency.

I have also seen “light” fruit juice. They take out some of the natural sugar and replace it with artificial sweeteners. What? I’ve never been a fan of what I call “fake sugars”, but really, in fruit juice? Again, taking out what God put in and replacing it with chemicals.

Our key to healthier food this week lies in moderation and careful selection from the options available. I will post later this week about a variety of milk and meat options, some of which I just learned about in the last few months.

BTW, we did quite well staying out of fast food restaurants and avoiding fried foods this last week. We had to have a couple of late dinners at home on evenings we are out until 7, but doing some of the chopping, mixing etc. earlier in the day helps some. I also made and posted a recipe for ChipHOMEle (my homemade version of my favorite fast food, sans the tortilla chips). I have added a few other recipes too. Check them out.

At the end of this last week, Hubby and I watched a documentary, Food, Inc. Based on that, I believe Chipotle might be the only fast food restaurant we might go to from now on. I highly recommend you watch this movie to find out more about where your food comes from and what happens to it along the way. Lisa at 100 Days of Real Food has a very good summary, but you really need to watch it to best understand it. It is available on Netflix and the Cincinnati Library has over 30 copies in their system.

Instead of just the one mid-week post this week, I will have one additional post to wrap up the budget for the last 4 weeks.