Nicki Anderson
Archive for the ‘healthy eating’ Category

Superbowl Sunday never tasted so good!

By Nicki On February 6, 2013 No Comments

11871_10151429076470929_966758054_nI’m a minority in my house.  I’m a pseudo vegetarian amongst die hard carnivores. However, out of my four children, one is vegan and one is vegetarian. When they’re home, they are my partners in crime! We’re always trying to find ways to sneak in vegetarian dishes to dyed-in-the-wool carnivores. Not an easy task.

Super Bowl Sunday like Thanksgiving is an open invitation to overeat and melt in to a comfy chair watching football. To me that’s a fate worse than death. Bloated and sitting. Where’s the joy in that? Am I missing something?

So, this year I decided to sneak in some vegetarian style goodies along with the traditional junk food that defines Super Bowl.

I posted these creations on my FB page and had an overwhelming response asking for the recipes. O.K. maybe not overwhelming, but enough to prompt this post.

So here you go. A couple of the vegetarian dishes that actually made the Super Bowl more exciting than Beyonce and almost as exciting as the blackout!

Mushroom Sliders  –  Makes about a dozen.

For patties:

24 oz. mushrooms (I mixed button, crimini and portobella) / 1 TBSP canola oil / 2 TBSP sliced shallots/ 2 TBSP sliced garlic / 3/4 c cooked brown rice / 1/3 c dry bread crumbs / 2 egg whites / 1 TBSP low-sodium soy sauce / 1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce / 1 TBSP stone ground mustard / 2 TBSP chopped flat leaf parsley / salt and pepper to taste

For Sliders:

2 TBSP canola oil / Slices of Swiss cheese (I quartered the slice of cheese and places 1/4 on each patty) / 10 cocktail buns (I used whole grain) / 1 avocado, pitted and peeled and sliced lengthwise and then across.

Saute mushrooms in large nonstick skillet until nicely browned. Add shallots and garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat. Darin mushroom mixture in colander and let cool.  Once cool, place on paper towel and squeeze out moisture.

Pulse mixture in a food processor until minced, 2-3 times. Add rice, bread crumbs, egg whites, soy sauce, Worcestershire, mustard, parsley and salt and pepper. Pulse to combine.

Use about 1/4 c. mixture and shape patties. Cover and place in fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 200

Heat oil in same skillet and cook patties until nicely browned on each side. Remove and place on cookie sheet. Place cheese on top of each patty. Put in oven until cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, toast buns in griddle (I buttered half the batch of buns, other half I left plain). Place patties on browned buns and top with a couple of slices of avocado.  Serve warm.

 

Banh Mi Spring Rolls

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Makes 4-6 rolls

Rolls-

6 oz. firm tofu /2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce/  1/2 c. thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps /3 -4 TBSP of your favorite Thai peanut sauce/ 1 TBSP canola oil / 2 TBSP minced fresh ginger / 2 TBSP minces scallions / 1 TBSP minced fresh garlic / 1 /2 matchstick-cut carrots / 1/2 c shredded romaine lettuce / 1/2 c matchstick-cut cucumber / 2 TBSP minced fresh cilantro / 2 TBSP minced fresh mint / 6-8 spring roll wrappers (8-inch)

Brown tofu and and mushrooms in soy sauce and oil in a nonstick skillet breaking up tofu with spoon until it’s like ground meat and lightly browned, about 5 minutes or so.  Add ginger, scallions and garlic. Stir-fry about 1 minute. Remove from stove and let cool. Mix tofu mixture with carrots, lettuce cucumber, cilantro and mint and thai peanut sauce. (Avoid any sauce with HFCS).  Mix well.

Soften wrappers one at a time in hot water until soft, about 15-20 seconds. Place 1/2 c tofu mixture in the center of each wrapper; roll like burritos and slice in half. Serve w/ sauce. I add sriracha on the side.

Both of these recipes were inspired by Cuisine Lite- Fresh and Fabulous

Enjoy!

Nicki


What Writing and Cooking Have in Common

By Nicki On December 29, 2012 No Comments
Acorn squash, heart healthy creamed spinach and panko baked chicken. Yum!

Acorn squash, heart healthy creamed spinach and panko baked chicken. Yum!

Today, I happened to catch the tail end of a show about a chef that recently graduated from culinary school. He was explaining why becoming a chef meant so much to him. Some of the reasons included the ability to be creative, share his talent to make others happy and doing something that brings him joy. As I watched him tear up sharing this story, it hit me that his reasons for loving to cook are the same reasons I love to cook, but I also thought about writing and how similar writing and cooking are.

O.K. first things first. I realized long ago that there is a difference between a cook and a baker. I am not a baker. I can’t remember a cookie, pie or cake that I’ve ever made that was any good. I am a cook. Being a cook allows me the freedom to add, subtract, and create any dish I want based on my personal preference. With baking you have to be exact, no margin of error, hence why I’m not crazy about baking, I can’t take a risk.

So back to writing and cooking. When I cook, I immerse myself and think of nothing else except how to make the dish that I’m working on unique, delicious and visually appealing. When I write, I do the same. I immerse myself in writing unique pieces that are fun and easy to read. I hope that when people walk away from something I’ve written they feel their time has been well spent. The same for cooking. When I cook, I hope that people walk away satisfied and wanting more.

It’s funny how much I love both writing and cooking yet I was never formally trained for either. I couldn’t imagine my life without cooking or writing. Both are my way of communicating and sharing a bit of my heart. When I cook, there is no shortage of love that goes in to each and every dish I make, be it complicated or simple. It’s the same when I write.

At my book signing

At my book signing

When I finish this blog, I’m heading to my kitchen to make some Vietnamese spring rolls. Of course, I’ll likely augment the recipe to my liking and we’ll see how they turn out. But just like writing, if I’m not crazy about it, I get a do-over.

Cheers!


Butternut Squash w/ Wild Rice Porcini Mushroom Risotto

By Nicki On November 15, 2012 No Comments

My new favorite recipe!

I don’t post recipes very often, but I feel obligated to share something that is not only healthy but full of flavor. You can add in chopped kale, spinach for a little extra nutritional kick. This is a great vegetarian meal, but for meat eaters, just grill up some marinated chicken tenderloins and place them on top with an extra sprinkling of parsley. Delicious!

 

 

Ingredients

2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms

2 c water

2 c cubed butternut squash

1 TBSP olive oil

½ TBSP maple syrup

3 c vegetable stock

1 ½ TBSP butter (olive oil can replace)

½ c. large red onion, finely chopped

1 TBSP shallot, finely chopped

1 tsp (or more if you like) fresh minced garlic

½ c wild rice

1 c Arborio rice

½ c white wine

½ container (3 oz) goat cheese – optional

Salt and pepper to taste

1/3 c. chopped fresh parsley

 

Directions

Combine the mushrooms and warmed water in a bowl making sure shrooms are covered with water. Soak for about 30 min. or until tender. Drain and reserve liquid for later use.

Preheat over to 375 (190 C)

Toss the butternut squash cubes, olive oil, maple syrup together in a bowl until squash is evenly coated. Spread on to baking sheet (I use parchment paper)

Roast squash until squash is tender but still in it’s cubed state, about 30 minutes.

Bring veg stock and mushroom liquid to a simmer in a saucepan over med/low heat.

Melt butter or oo in a large skillet over med heat, when butter begins to bubble stir in onion, shallots and garlic until soft and golden about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in the wild rice and Arborio rice and mix well with onion mixture. Then add white wine and mushrooms (which I chopped up) to mixture and stir occasionally until liquid has been absorbed, about 7-10 minutes.

Pour enough of simmering stock mixture into the skillet to cover rice. Slowly stir until absorbed. Continue adding about ¾ of a cup until the rice is tender. It will take about 40 minutes, especially w/ wild rice.

When all liquid has been absorbed, carefully stir in squash and heat up for about 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add in cheese (optional) and parsley until risotto is nice and creamy. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and serve!


Olympic Athletes and Fast Food. Huh?

By Nicki On August 7, 2012 No Comments

Here’s Michael Phelps and Apolo Ohno with the CMO of Subway, Tony Pace. You’re likely thinking the same thing I am.

 

Though the Olympics play a rather large role in getting people active again, it’s a bit of a paradox when these average every day folks see Olympians touting their devotion to fast-food restaurants and junk food, primarily McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. These companies are the proud Olympic Partners.

Wait,  let’s see if I’m getting this right, the most stellar physical athletes in the world claim that junk food is their go-to food when training and performing? I’m not buying it, but unfortunately plenty of other people will because, “Heck, if it’s good enough for Olympic athletes, it’s good enough for me!”

In my opinion, there’s a sense of responsibility on behalf of the Olympics and the athletes. Remember the scuttlebutt over American Olympic uniforms being made in China? People were aghast. Doesn’t the fact that hamburgers, fries and soda are being condoned by athletes and the Olympics ruffle a few feathers, somewhere?

The athletes are doing their fair share of getting the junk food message into the living rooms of families watching the events. LeBron James, Loul Deng, Apollo Ono, Shaun Johnson and others are pitching foods that just don’t connect to their performance and physical fitness. It doesn’t make sense to me. Oh wait, I hear a “ching,ching” in the background- money. That’s right, that silly little thing that often trumps just about everything else, integrity, health of our country (which by the way has a huge obesity issue) and well, good old fashioned conscious.

 

Henry Cejudo is a freestyle wrestler and Olympic gold medalist. He’s one of Coke’s 8Pack Athletes. Sort of sounds like a 6 pack, which is not what you’ll get drinking this.

Though we are incredibly proud of the performance these athletes have executed, the blatant promotion of “carbage” is somehow disheartening. I will say, Subway stays away from deep fried foods and does offer veggie sandwiches. But for the most part, junk food is NOT what allows these athletes  to perform at such a high level. Basically, it’s false advertising.

Shaun Johnson and her buddy, Ronald.

Some will ask, “What’s the big deal with having junk food once in awhile?” Well, the fact is that there are those who understand moderation, but tell that to an 8  year old who loves the gymnasts and sees them promoting McDonald’s, suddenly that is what she’s going to clamor for. If he or she is lucky enough, she’ll have a parent that understands moderation. But for many others (remember the obesity issue I  mentioned earlier?) not the case. Bottom line, it’s a mixed message, pure and simple.

I have to give kudos to Ryan Lochte, who obviously didn’t let the endorsement cash get to him. He gave up junk food two years ago. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t heard anyone praise his efforts not only from a physical fitness and health standpoint, but for someone who didn’t get sucked in by a multi-million dollar contract.

I’m certainly not a purist, but when it comes to inspiring the next generation of athletes, there is some responsibility that should be realized by the Olympics and the athletes.  In my opinion, promoting fast-food restaurants and soda is no different than promoting Marlboro reds after a long workout. (Yes, junk food can contribute to cancer). LeBron, got a light?

 

Here’s to your health!

 

Nicki


Why We Overeat and Why Obesity Won’t Go Away

By Nicki On August 2, 2012 3 Comments

While I was traveling last month I was sitting in an airport and watched a family finish off hamburgers and fries. One of the younger kids about 5 or 6 asked his Mom, “Do I have to eat all of it?” She responded, “Just eat it and be quiet.”  Hmm, my heart sank for 2 reasons. One, she really never answered his question and two, how will he ever learn what good food tastes like and how enjoy it? My hunch is that   more people simply eat for satiety while dismissing  flavor, nourishment, and enjoyment.
We can all agree that family dinners are not like they used to be. When I was a kid, unless my folks were going out to eat, we always ate together. When my kids were growing up, I tried to do most of our meals as a family, but when sports season rolled around that became tough. The bottom line is that we grab and go never thinking about what’s actually going in to our body, and how it may positively or negatively affect our health.
I read t his quote recently and it sums up my thoughts, “If we looked at eating as an activity to relish rather than as an invitation to gluttony, we’d all be not only healthier but happier.” –  Michelle Stacey
I have to admit, I have not always been passionate about food. When I was 50 pounds overweight, I ate for satiety, nothing more. But once I realized the way I was living wasn’t serving me well, I not only set out to change my habits, I set out to educate myself.  Learning has been a process. There’s rarely a day that passes, that I don’t learn something new about nutrition and the foods that serve to fuel positive health vs. foods that take away from health.
 Diets, weight loss pills and drinks are not the secret to anything healthy, including weight loss. I have always believed that a healthy weight is the result of a healthy diet, and I mean diet in the sense that it’s what you put in your body. Simply acknowledging that nature provides everything we need to be healthy and strong. Solid, whole nutrition can’t be found in a box or in a fast-food restaurant. The closer your food is to natural, the less you have to worry about fat, sodium and calories. Most “natural” foods are impossible to overeat, and are naturally balanced when it comes to fat, sodium and calories.
The next time you feel dissatisfied with your weight, look beyond that and instead address what you’re eating. What percentage of the foods you eat are natural, whole foods, veggies, fruits and grains? How much of what you’re eating is processed? Boxed? Fast-food? By simply making small changes each week, perhaps start with including 1 extra whole veggie per day in your diet. Once that happens, add another and so on. Instead of fries, experiment with grains, brown rice, couscous, etc.  It takes time, and changing your palette is often the hardest part of it. But you can do it.
Why is obesity such an issue? Because we ignore body signals (disease, bloating, indigestion, etc.) and continue  our addiction (fat, sodium and sugar) which takes over and rules food choices. As long as we continue to overfeed our body the wrong foods, we will never gain control over our weight, pure and simple.
Remember that just one small change today can be the positive difference in your health tomorrow.
Here’s to your health!
Nicki

Getting Back to Basics Best Strategy for Weight Loss/Management

By Nicki On July 15, 2012 2 Comments

Fresh fruits and veggies should be eaten all the time, not as a diet strategy, but as a health strategy.

I had a discussion with a friend of mine last week, and she shared her newest strategy on getting healthy, and losing some unwanted weight. Her approach? Major restriction during the week, and pig outs on the weekends. When I shared my concern about that strategy, she said, “It’s what works for me!” Hmm, it may work now, but what about 1 year from now?

According to research published in the journal Obesity, splurging even just two days out of the week can add up to an almost nine-pound weight gain over the course of a year!

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis followed 48 overweight adults for a year, tracking daily food intake and weight. Even from the beginning, they found a striking difference in what people ate during the week compared to the weekend: On Saturdays, people ate well over 2,200 calories, while Monday through Friday, the average calorie intake was about 2,000 calories. The amount of weight they were gaining based on these extra calories—about .17 pound a week—could translate to about nine extra pounds a year.

Lead researcher, Susan Racette, PhD, and her colleagues divided participants into three groups: 19 subjects were put on a calorie-restricted diet, 19 were instructed to follow an exercise regimen, and 10 were asked not to change their behavior at all. Over the course of the year, members of the caloric restriction group lost an average of 17.6 pounds, the exercisers lost about 14 pounds each, and the healthy-eating control group lost just two pounds. Upon closer inspection, however, the weekends still posed a problem and thwarted weight-loss efforts.

“Those in the calorie-restricted group would have lost over .6 pounds per week, but because they overate on the weekend, their weekly weight loss was about .5 pounds per week,” Racette says. And those in the exercise group actually gained weight over the weekends.

Even though they were asked to keep food diaries, many people in the study didn’t realize that they were consuming more calories on the weekends. This could be because of the types of food they’re eating (high-calorie on-the-go options), the lack of structure in their days, or the laid-back mind-set that many of us adopt on our days off. Whatever the explanation, this study suggests that one reason why people who go on diets often don’t lose weight as fast or as easily as they first predicted is due to overeating on the weekends.

If you think weekends may be sabotaging your weight management efforts, here are some suggestions:
* Try to stick with the same meal patterns you follow midweek on the weekend.
* If you know you are going out for dinner find ways to get in a bit more exercise that day and  be  mindful about your food consumption during the day. Further, you don’t have to “splurge” when out to eat. There are plenty of healthy options that taste fantastic.
* Limit your alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a diet double-whammy; it’s not only rich in calories itself, but it also reduces inhibitions and causes mindless snacking.
* If you exercise, don’t reward yourself with food. This common practice is the reason so many people are unable to lose weight and keep it off. Stay hydrated and stay on top of healthy food choices. On the flip side, some people blow exercise off on the weekends because it’s their rest time. Bad move, especially if you’re consuming more calories. Make exercise part of your everyday life, not just when you feel like it.
* Pack fruit and healthy snacks (nuts, chopped veggies) if you’re going to be out of the house all day. This way you won’t rely on food-court selections that are loaded with garbage.
These suggestions are pretty basic, but often forgotten. It’s typically the little things that can make a big difference. It’s up to you if you want that difference to be positive or negative.

 

Here’s to Your Health!

Nicki


Wanna Lose Weight? Check Out Your Local Farmers Market

By Nicki On June 5, 2012 No Comments

How I love the first Farmer's Market of summer!

For years, I’ve been telling people that weight loss is a byproduct of lifestyle, period. Yet many continue to jump on the latest diet trend in hopes of finding the miracle that once and for all melts unwanted fat and delivers the ideal body. Though intellectually people know that’s never going to happen, emotionally it’s a wish many still make every day.

I have always touted whole foods as the secret to a healthy weight. Even with my first book over 10 years ago, I gave the same advice then as I do today; in order to achieve a healthy weight,  you need to consider moderate portions of whole, REAL foods.

We have discovered through many studies and personal experience, that excess weight comes from so much of the processed foods we eat. Folks continue to be sucked in by confusing labels that promote, “All natural, gluten-free, fat-free, calorie-free,” it doesn’t matter, they’re likely garbage.

One of the great things about dabbling in the world of health and wellness is that there is always something new, and very often fleeting. For example, remember oats back in the 90’s as being the secret to weight loss? Fat-free in the 80’s? Yet here we are, still battling with our weight and hoping that the miracle that comes along will be fast, easy, painless and permanent.

Will something like that ever happen? As a  matter of fact, it’s something that’s been around forever, it’s just that diets are far more glamorous and make the truth far less attractive. The truth, real food. Yep, whole, natural food. No boxes no wrappers, no nothin’, simply whole, real foods. And there’s no better time than summer to experiment, and check out the vast selection of these amazing, natural foods that are kind to your body and your waistline.

As summer kicks in, Farmers Markets are opening and gaining in popularity. Farmers Markets are a wonderful way for small family farms to connect with their community, share their bounty of beautiful, fresh and in some instances, organic produce. I can promise you that the moment you choose to exchange your processed, diet foods for the real thing, change will happen. Your body will thank you for giving it what it needs by losing extra weight and operating in a more energetic way.

Nothing more beautiful than summer harvest!

However, no matter how healthy food is, quantity is still to be noted. I like to follow my Q2 rule, quality and quantity. Just because something is healthy, doesn’t mean I should eat enough to feed 2 families. Part of being healthy is being kind to your body which includes not overeating.

If you’ve struggled with achieving a weight you’re happy with, why not support your local farmers while supporting your health? There’s nothing better than a meal full of fresh vegetables to make your body love you.  And the best part of all, you’ll likely love your body back.

 

Here’s to your health!

Nicki


Dissecting Diets

By Nicki On March 11, 2012 4 Comments

 

I admit, my first attempt at weight loss as an overweight teen was a diet. In fact, it was Weight Watchers.  However, back in 1978, WW was significantly different. It really wasn’t a “diet” like we know today, it was an education in healthy eating, a healthy diet. For the first time in years, I abstained from eating fast food, started moving more and ate fruits and vegetables every day. Since that time, weight loss strategies and the ridiculous number of fast-n-easy diets has dramatically changed people’s relationship with food. Instead of discovering how food can work with their body, many people are fighting weight loss and food has become their weapon of choice.

As a senior in high school, I was 50 pounds heavier and on a 5’2″ frame, that’s just not healthy. I knew by how I felt, how I performed each day that something wasn’t right. To be honest, it wasn’t so much how I looked, but more about  how I felt. Today, it’s all about how we look, how thin we are and health has taken a back seat. I look at movie stars, models and even reality stars and thin is the new black. The truth is that not everyone is meant to be skinny, and I mean skinny, not thin, Hollywood, Angelina Jolie thigh skinny. And women (and some men) buy into that look as a goal to shoot for. So, they jump on the latest diet that promises to slim your thighs, harden your abs, whittle your waist and remove cellulite.  And because of the pressure to meet the expectations of an unrealistic culture, we diet, over and over and over again all in an effort to be- skinny.

Over the last few years, I have become more and more interested in nutrition, how what we eat affects our body as well as our environment. I’ve been fascinated to read the evolution of nutrition over the years. Oddly enough, instead of our country creating amazing, healthy foods to make us smarter and leading edge, we’ve excelled in fast-food restaurants and processed food leaving us all unhealthy and overweight. We see high numbers of obesity, schools cutting out physical education and more and more kids being diagnosed with things never heard of 30 years ago. When I was in grade school, no one had allergies. Maybe one or two kids had asthma.  ADD? Autism? ADHD? It was unheard of then.

As my interest in nutrition has grown, so has the way I fuel my body.  And the funny thing is I find myself changing and becoming more and more interested in listening to and trusting what my body needs to perform optimally. The way I eat is not designed to help me become thin, not skinny but healthy.  Diets that I have reviewed over the years have one goal, to cause weight loss and longevity is irrelevant. These programs figure if they get people to lose weight once, they’ll come back. because they believed it worked before. Hmmm.  Over and over and over again, people fall in to the diet trap striving for skinny, to achieve what they perceive to be normal.  If only we could rise above the hold that diets clearly have on the 70 million Americans that diet each year.

I recently wrote an article on Plant Based Nutrition. I am a believer. Not only am I believer, I am gradually changing my lifestyle to accommodate more of a plant based diet, not weight loss, health based. Why? Because it’s more along the lines of how my ancestors ate and given the way our environment is constantly compromised, I want to select my foods based on how kind the food is to my body and to the earth.  When I’m buying organic simply because it’s organic and dismissing the fact that it was sent here from Mexico or Chile, what kind of carbon imprint is that leaving? Further, how does the nutrition diminish during lengthy transportation? Wouldn’t it make better sense to buy locally even if not necessarily organic? We’ve confused organic with earth and health smart, not always the case.

Imagine if more people took up gardening and learned to eat seasonally vs. expecting perfect produce in the off season. Imagine how differently you would view food if you didn’t have to decipher ingredients on the side of a box that looked more like hieroglyphics versus real food.  Eating for health truly is the key to ridding yourself of diets and hanging on to a healthy, strong body.

I believe it’s time to walk away from the world of diets that does nothing to encourage healthy eating options, simply calorie focus. It’s time to realize that if diets were great, obesity and disease would decline, not the case. Getting back to basics with a focus on plant based nutrition, locally grown produce, small farms we can support,  we will not only find a wonderful difference in the health of our body, we will discover a great way to positively impact our environment.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s to your health!

Nicki


It’s March, Do You Know Where Your Resolutions Are?

By Nicki On March 1, 2012 1 Comment

Well, it’s March 1st. New Year’s resolutions have been shelved as guilt settles in to each sedentary day. We’re reminded of our lost commitments as weight loss programs dominate advertising space on television, magazines and in our head. It’s the time of year when we wished we had held tight to our resolutions, but as history shows, other priorities have strong-armed healthy intentions. All is not lost, however; there are things to consider before you get back on the horse and ride your way into the healthy living sunset.

Most people abandon their resolutions when the vision of becoming a picture perfect eater and exerciser slowly fades into the sea of lost hope. The vision unfortunately excluded the reality of a job, family and unexpected challenges that naturally occur in life. If you’re feeling frustrated, depressed or guilt-ridden about letting your healthy intentions slide, let it go. Years ago, I abandoned the notion that I could be a super woman. Though the idea of doing it all left me excited, the actual act of doing it all left me exhausted. I realized that the best way to stay on top of my health and balance it with my busy life was looking reality in the eye and accepting that my best was good enough.

Every time someone comes to me Jan. 1 to share their litany of healthy living resolutions, I have to stop them. Although the intentions are admirable, the likelihood of long-term commitment to the changes is just not going to happen. How can anyone expect to go from inactivity and fast food runs daily to workouts seven days a week and a completely vegan diet? It’s just not realistic. What is realistic is standing back, taking a look at your life and implementing a beginners program. Most people implement an advanced athletes program and wonder why they can’t stick with it.

When I decided to lose 50 pounds, I was a slug. A crunchy burrito was my favorite food. I also thought Cheetos were a healthy alternative to chips. They’re so colorful! Clearly, deciding to dump junk food and begin exercising was a daunting proposition, but I knew there wasn’t an alternative. Well, I suppose there was, but that wasn’t the choice my health could afford. Thirty-plus years later, I’m so glad I let my health rule my decision; it turned out to be a good one.

So where are you today? Where do you want to be tomorrow? When you look at the resolutions that you made, were they a bit overzealous? Remember, it likely has taken you many years to develop bad habits, so you need to make the same consideration when developing new, healthier habits.

The first step to getting back on track is to start off slow. Instead of saying you’re going to work out seven days a week, why not start with two days? After you stick with that for a month, either add on time or another day. Ultimately, and I mean ultimately, not immediately, you will get to a point where you will walk further or run, or bike ride or swim more often. Getting started can’t be overwhelming, or it will lack staying power. You must consider your lifestyle and limitations when planning your program. Healthy living motto: Be realistic!

Next, food. Once an ally now an enemy and that’s the problem. The more you “fight” weight, “beat” weight loss, join the “weight loss battle” it’s a negative journey. Rethink the meaning of food and what purpose food serves. Simply put, food allows our body to function properly, period. But we’ve starved it, teased it with fake food, binged on junk food and been ashamed of the body it’s created — thus the breakup between us and food. Food needs to be viewed differently. Not for a diet but for sustenance. Not for weight loss but for health gains. Not for mindless eating but for mindful eating. Not for distension but for prevention. The minute you can select foods that will encourage good health, the battle, the fight, the war will likely end.

I encourage you to consider “getting back together” with healthy food choices and start an exercise program off slowly. You’ll likely be more successful in your efforts. But don’t get too comfortable. As you improve your activity, find new and fun things to add on to keep it interesting.

Celebrate your successes and recognize when you’ve accomplished something great. For some that may be a walk around the block to start. As for food, the Internet has a wealth of resources for cooking healthy. Stick as closely as you can to whole foods, less boxed. Spend more time cooking at home versus spending time at the drive-through. It can be done, but it has to be done slowly and respectfully.

Rome wasn’t built in a day nor should a healthy body be expected to. It takes time, dedication and a solid dose of reality. Do what you can today to contribute to a healthier you tomorrow. And that my friends is the secret to securing those resolutions.

 

Here’s to your good health!

Nicki

(Reprinted from  February 21st edition of The Naperville Sun)


Kids and Obesity- Who Is To Blame?

By Nicki On January 29, 2012 2 Comments

If they were looking for volunteers, I’d be the first one in line to help teach kids about healthy living. There is clearly a shortage of health education for kids these days, and if it is being taught, it’s not being taught well.

Full disclosure, years ago, I fed my kids fun fruits and fruit roll-ups. Yes, we went to McDonald’s and Burger King. I potty trained my kids with M&M’s, yes, I did all the things I shouldn’t have done. But that was before I knew something wasn’t right. When I was pregnant, I made every effort to eat whole, pure food. Why should I feed them differently now? So, I made the decision to educate myself on food and the ramifications of feeding kids garbage, I reigned in, much to their disappointment.

I have been working with obese/inactive adults for almost 20 years. In the last 5 years, I have had a surge in Mother’s coming to be me with their young daughters, 11, 12, 13. “They just won’t stop eating. Their siblings are thin, their friends are thin, so I just want her to feel comfortable in her body and lose some weight.” All of this said in front of their child. I often ask parents what types of foods they buy at home, “Well, the other kids know when to stop, they don’t over eat some of the junk food I buy. Plus they’re really active. She just can’t eat that stuff.”  My reply, “Well, why do you buy it?”  Mother’s response, “Why should I have to punish the other kids when they don’t have a problem?”  Hmmm, punishment = taking away junk food. And this my friends is where the problem starts.

Georgia's Childhood Obesity ad campaign

Recently, there’s been some controversy over a new ad campaign in Georgia (which has the 2nd highest obesity rate for children) utilizing obese kids to get a message across; fat is bad. Some people are mortified by them, while others think they will have a positive impact. Me, I’m not so sure. As an obese teen, I find the ads offensive and ineffective. First of all, the photos should be of the whole family, not just the child. Second, I think a child that is 8 or 9 years old is being exploited and stigmatized. You don’t think kids will be bullied or teased when they see these ads? One of the ads, “Big bones didn’t make me this way, big meals did,” will surely result in teasing on the playground.  A more positive approach would be a picture of an entire family that says: “A healthy child is the result of a healthy home.”  or “A fit child, comes from a fit family.”  Bottom line, FAMILIES need to be educated on food and how they feed their children. Just because children are active in sports does not justify a run to a fast food restaurant following practice. Parents will tell me, “Well, we don’t have time to cook a big meal, drive-thrus are just easier.”  Well, they may be easier, but that’s not setting your child up for success when the shopping is ultimately u p to them.

Further, most parents are bound and determined to see that their kids do well in school and in life, shouldn’t nutrition and exercise be part of their rearing? 40  years ago, it was different, but today, it should be mandatory for every family that has a kindergarten age child, go to a class that teaches families the value in raising kids with healthy food and lifestyle. Even in low income areas, you could get volunteers teaching famlies how to eat healthy on a budget. (A girl can dream, can’t she?)  A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is far better than a fast-food burger, or jumbo sandwich.

We, the parents are responsible for our children, and it is up to us to see that our children learn the importance of eating well and staying healthy. What they learn about nutrition now, they will carry through to their adult years.  They won’t always be playing soccer or running track, so introducing healthy eating and reasonable ways to stay active, should not be done just for inactive kids, it should be for ALL kids.

I’m not crazy about the ad campaign, I feel that there could be a much more tactful, effective way to get the message out about childhood obesity. The people who came up with the campaign believe that the “shock and awe” value is what’s needed to wake people up to the problem of childhood obesity. I’m not so sure I agree. I think the only thing that is going to help, is educating families on what constitutes healthy eating and it needs to start from birth.

We can’t blame schools, vending machines, ads, fast-food restaurants for the obesity epidemic, rather it’s up to us to do the research, understand how junk food and fast-food compromises our health and begin making positive changes for ourselves. That way, we will be better equipped to pass it on to the next generation without feeling the need to objectify  kids to make a point.

 

Here’s to your health!

Nicki