Saturday, September 25, 2010

a dietary post

for a quasi-healthy-living blogger, food-related posts that are not restaurant reviews are few and far between! however, lately i've been a little bit frustrated with my daily diet. i thought i would write about some of my recent experiences -- and if anyone in this vast online community has any suggestions for me, i'd love to hear them!

AM rut
it occurred to me the other morning that i have eaten some variation of this breakfast nearly every day for the past 2+ years:

i know, right? sure, i mix it up a little:

sometimes i'll use whole grain toaster waffles instead of my beloved ezekiel english muffins

sometimes i substitute almond or sunflower seed butter for the traditional peanut variety (my favorite is actually the just peanuts & salt 365 brand - smooth and luscious!)

the fruit does vary. from banana slices to an apple with cinnamon to fresh figs or berries, i'll use whatever we have around.

sometimes i see breakfast ideas in magazines or blogs and think that i might branch out. for example, caitlin's recent autumn grilled banana sandwich looks pretty spectacular, and clean eating offers some great savory ideas like this arugula and goat cheese frittata, which really would be pretty easy to prep ahead of time.

but when the morning actually arrives, i never actually want anything other than my old standard. since it's healthy and does a pretty good job sustaining me for 4-5 hours, maybe there is no harm in continuing in my food rut. if it ain't broke . . .

but what about the rest of the day?
to be honest, lately i've been feeling kind of rutty (is that really a word? blogger's auto spellcheck seems to think so . . .) for my other meals as well. i haven't really been inspired to cook as often as i used to, and my lunches are starting to become very predictable: most days it's a pre-made frozen wrap and some kind of raw vegetable on the side, sometimes with hummus for dipping.

the nutrition isn't so bad, and they are fairly tasty

but -- they are still a pre-wrapped convenience item, which in my view is not ideal for everyday consumption. to make things worse, this meal is often eaten in the span of about 5 minutes between seeing patients, answering phone calls, or commuting from one clinic building to the hospital.


the cycle continues
so obviously, someone who runs regularly and has a fairly active job cannot live on a little wrap as her only mid-day sustenance, right?

well, i can't, anyway. so i snack. and lately, that's been mostly on bars and other pre-packaged delights. however, even with these supplements, i still come home absolutely ravenous most days. this would work out fairly well if i could come home and simply cook and eat dinner. unfortunately, josh's hours are less than ideal and he doesn't usually make it in for at least another hour -- or sometimes 2+.

i find this the most frustrating! at this point, my body is crying out for a real dinner. no amount of munching on snack foods (either of the fruit/vegetable variety or something more energy-dense) really does the trick for me until i've eaten enough to not really be hungry for dinner -- and that makes cooking much less enjoyable.

often i do hold out and just wait, but the profound lack of energy (seriously, sometimes i wish i had a glucometer to verify that my blood sugar hasn't dropped to 45) isn't much fun either, and it means that when we do finally dine together i tend to snarf everything in about 5 minutes. also not ideal. going out at this point is also dangerous; last night i inhaled a plate of tofu and vegetables in a rich peanut sauce and later lived to regret it (don't worry -- i survived!).

the good news
i'm lucky -- despite all this, my jeans still fit fine. however, i think that my energy has suffered (perhaps causing some of my 'off' days this past week?) and i've just been feeling less than my best. also, my overall enjoyment of food is down. as a card-carrying gourmet, this makes me a little sad!

things that i would like to work on
packing less processed lunches and actually taking the time to enjoy them
eating more mindfully (and slower!) when i do sit down to a meal
figuring out a way to quell the tide of pre-dinner ravenousness
varying breakfast? maybe. but this one might just be a lost cause!

any ideas for me, healthy livers? <-- not referring to that all important organ tucked under your right ribcage

i'd be grateful if you'd send me your thoughts! and with that, i'm off to live my saturday: massage and all! i hope you are all enjoying wonderful weekends as well.


  1. One suggestion that might help with the dinner issue would be to have have a small meal like a sandwich and some fruit or veggies around 4pm or so. It might feel more satisfying to have a larger quantity of food all at once rather than spread out throughout the afternoon.

  2. Sarah, I had a hard time breaking out of my breakfast rut, too. The one thing to do is to not buy the usual staples. Buy a grain to make hot cereal, or some mix (or wheat flour) to make quick pancakes in the morning.
    As far as dinner goes, listen to your body and eat when it needs to. You could always have a small meal, or the whole meal and enjoy some tea or dessert with your husband. I completely understand being ravenous before dinner, that's why sometimes you just need to eat for you. It is your body after all, right!
    Unfortunately eating is not something you can do perfectly. It is just something you do. Hope I didn't ramble on too much! Have a great weekend (and massage).

  3. I am just wondering if your "plan" is in effect. All of this sounds like totally normal early days of pregnancy to me! How about a yogurt smoothies
    Some sort right before leaving work? Or right after?

  4. Ooh, Chelsea and Astrid left you some great tips. Not sure that I can top those. I will say that I understand your desire to have dinner with Josh. Craig and I love our evening meal together even if it means compromising on the hour, etc. I loved Astrid's idea of eating dessert or a salad (post-entree, European style) with Josh instead of your main meal.

    P.S. Craig and I ran eleven miles this morning! Woo!

  5. melissa: it's possible, i suppose, and i have had that thought as well. but so far i don't think so :)

    everyone: thank you for your suggestions so far! anyone have any other thoughts? (i know there are some experienced RDs out there reading :) )

  6. Anonymous10:48 AM

    i definitely eat the same thing every morning! i do change it up on occasion (like when im out with friends or something) but i like the no thinking aspect to my breakfast hahah

    maybe you can do a post on all the suggestions you get? i feel like i'm in the same boat. maybe it's just the nature of my job but i'm snacky all day!

  7. I would eat Ezekiels everyday if I had them/could afford it :). I think eating a bigger lunch would help hold you over to dinner. Think of lunch as your biggest meal. Then your snack can come later (perhaps when you get off work or right before) and then you won't be as ravenous when dinner time comes along. Or perhaps you can eat two small dinners--one post work and one with Josh. Between your snacking and scarfing I think it would all come out to be the same calorically but perhaps 2 dinners would be more nutritious and mindful.

  8. My breakfast of choice is a PB+J, inhaled in the car en route to work. Definitely not the most zen way to start my day... but it's difficult finding the time (and motivation!) to put together a delicious and varied breakfast when work looms.

    When a bit more inspired... I sometimes cook up some more labor/time-intensive breakfasts the night before (slow oats, pancakes), 'plate' it, and then I just have to warm it up and add some extra fixings in the morning. It feels pretty indulgent, and is definitely something I should do more often.

    As for the supper issue... How about having a salad or soup when you get home, as an appetizer of sorts?

  9. I have this cute list style post it magnet that I keep on my fridge and whenever I make something and think, "wow that was easy and healthy" I'll jot it down on the list. It sounds funny, but I FORGET and sometimes it will be months before I make something again and then wonder why I don't make it more often. Just having my quick list has helped me out of slumps. I tend to make breakfast that center around eggs, red peppers, and avocados. When I'm being creative I'll make something like overnight oats and/or soaked nuts and seeds. Also, packing apples, pears, etc could sub for your snack bars.

  10. i've been feeling the same way about my daily eats lately - not enough cooking, too much eating out for lunch, and overall just feeling bleh. after a 9 month stint as a vegetarian, i just went back to eating meat [although not much], and i think it had a lot to do with the fact that i was really bored with what i was eating.

  11. Anonymous3:13 PM


    I like all of the ideas presented. I generally think a prepared meal is much more satisfying than a packaged one. If you could cook and eat when you come home and then have tea or coffee with your husband you would have leftovers for a more substantial lunch the next day. What about also making some healthy muffins on the weekend to eat when you are driving home or mid day. I also must say that your symptoms are vintage early symptoms of 'plan' though.

  12. I'm impressed that you eat breakfast at all! My "rut" in that area lately has been...only coffee (fail) and then a granola bar later. I think the already mentioned idea of eating a sandwich etc. at around 4pm will help with your snacking later - or a smoothie? I know that helps me.

  13. Anonymous5:48 PM

    Hi Sarah,
    Your breakfast is very similar to what I may eat in the morning, I usually want something quick and easy. Sometimes I will make a cooked cereal, like right now it is Hodgson Mill hot cereal with flax and soy, I will add a spoon of almond butter & grade B maple syrup. I will sometimes have a scrambled egg on 1/2 english muffin, maybe a laughing cow cheese mixed in (many new flavors available), at work I have many small snacks througout the day e.g. nuts, string cheese & apple, hummus and baby carrots, almond butter sandwhich, greek yogurt, canned sockeye salmon & mary's gone crackers crackers, etc. Once home for dinner I always start off with a large salad & dinner varies. I also drinks lots of water during the day.
    Off to Panzanella tonight!
    Hope this helps,

  14. Anonymous7:44 AM

    I think if you ate a larger amount of food early in the day you wouldn't be starving before dinner. I am guessing now you eat only about 1/3-1/2 of your daily intake before dinner? Your breakfast is quite small, and your lunch is more of a snack, calorie-wise. No wonder you are hungry when it is time for dinner. I know you don't eat a lot, but spacing your meals so that you eat more during your active hours should give you more energy when you need it the most.

  15. I agree with the anonymous comment above, and am a victim of it myself...I run around all day and then eat about half of my calories after the hour of 7 wonder I am ravenous at 6! It's a mental thing, though, as I consider dinner to be the most "special" meal of the day. And, uh, it's hard for me to not eat a little piece of chocolate afterward.

    But as for you ever have leftovers from your yummy homemade dinners? I practice the "stuff it in a whole wheat pita or tortilla" and call it another meal philosophy. Or perhaps you could make a recipe on Saturday or Sunday specifically for your weekday black bean cakes--wrap them in a tortilla, add some spinach and maybe some avocado and a little salsa, and you have your own Amy's wrap. Or a batch of chana masala..have it inside a pita one day, on top of salad the next with yogurt and fruit on the side. Just a couple of suggestions!