A Farewell to Carbs

A 30-something navigating the world of Type 2 Diabetes while remaining fun, fashionable and fabulous.

Goals for March 03/01/2012

Filed under: Goals — Diabetic Diva @ 8:09 am
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It’s a new month, which means new goals.

For new readers, I decided in late December that instead of making a big blanket New Year’s resolution that I’d never, ever follow through on, I’d make one or two easily-reachable goals each month. Each goal remains in place, though, so I add to my new healthy habits each month.

The reality is …. well, it hasn’t worked out as planned. My January goals were to exercise for 210 minutes each week. That hasn’t exactly happened consistently. I also resolved to stop eating fast food and, even though I’ve realized it tastes gross, I still hit the drive-thru once a week or so as a “reward” for a tough day.

February goals were a mixed bag. I have not been very good about taking time out to eat meals and really enjoy them. But I have followed my goal of exercising once a week outside of the gym, mostly thanks to a great group of friends who will get together with me for a walk or an exercise class once a week.

So, in addition to focusing on meeting these four goals each day, I’m adding one more. The first is one I’m excited about — I’ve decided to stop eating after 9 p.m.

This is a relatively arbitrary time of day, and it’s intended to solve a problem I’ve been struggling with for years.

I make good food choices in the morning and afternoons. I can fend off early hunger pangs at work by focusing on another task. I am rarely tempted to go off the beaten path when it comes to my meal plans for breakfast, lunch and a snack.

It's almost 9 p.m.Do you know where your snacks are?

But once I get home from work, a switch flips in my brain. I put my stuff down and do the dishes from lunch. Then I open the fridge and unhinge my jaw. Every commercial break, I’ll get up and find something else to snack on. And even after I’m full, I keep eating. I completely blow my daily calorie limit in the space of three or four hours. And, as embarassing as it is to admit, if I don’t have tantalizing snacks in the house, I’ll go out and buy some.

I have a problem. I know this. And yet I can’t stop. I know I’m screwing up. I’ve tried curbing it by putting the mindful eating goal last month. It didn’t work.

I’m hoping that by instituting an eating ban after 9 p.m., I can rewire my brain to not expect a calorie explosion late at night.

I have a few strategies to help me accomplish this goal. I’ve started exercising at the gym at night after work, which means there’s a 45 minute period where I can’t eat. (Well, I could but I’d hate to think of the judgement I’d get if I ate a pan of brownies while walking on a treadmill.)

When I get home from the gym, I am hungry. But it’s more habit than actual hunger, and I’ve just spent 45 minutes sweating and panting (and not in a good way). So why would I want to then ruin all that by stuffing my face?

I’d like to eventually lift this ban in favor of a more sane approach to snacking, so I can have a small treat or an extra serving of veggies before bed. For now, though, going cold-turkey seems like the only way to really stop the sabotage.

 

Fueling the machine 02/29/2012


Going along with yesterday’s post about changing my outlook on working out, I wanted to talk about what happens AFTER the work out.

After a workout I am ravenous. I don’t think I’m alone in this. And most of that hunger is in my head. I didn’t run a long-distance marathon. I didn’t climb a mountain. I just completed 45 minutes at the gym. I should not feel like I want to butcher and eat an entire cow.

This problem is made worse by the voice inside my head that rationalizes the fact that I am considering eating an entire half-gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream with a soup spoon. I worked out, right? I can totally afford 14 200-calorie servings of ice cream (that’s a total of 2,800 calories, for those playing along at home).

I'm glad they don't sell this in half-gallons.

Doing this is, of course, counterproductive. I do not need to replenish the 300-odd calories I burned on the Bitch (what I call the elliptical machine for new readers out there). In fact, burning those 300 calories is THE WHOLE FREAKING POINT.

I found this article from SparkPeople.com in my in-box recently and thought it was a fairly rational approach to refueling after a workout. I already subscribe to the carb-and-protein together philosophy of snacking. So I might try to follow the article’s advice and reserve 150 or so calories for a healthy, rational snack after my work out.

 

Human Guinea Pig: Blood orange-flavored Greek yogurt 02/16/2012


An occasional feature wherein Diabetic Diva reviews products that purport to help with a healthy lifestyle. She receives no compensation or sponsorship for these reviews. Curious about a product? Leave suggestions in the comments section or e-mail diabetic.diva79@gmail.com.

My brief relationship with a nutritionist back when I was first diagnosed with diabetes left me with a few take-away points. In addition to suggesting a carbohydrate maximum for each meal and snack, she told me to try and combine a carb and a protein for each snack I had. Great advice. She also turned me on to Greek yogurt.

Now, I was raised on Yoplait Light. Greek yogurt was pretty much a mystery to me. But my nutritionist gave me some coupons for Chobani brand yogurt that made it pretty much free. So I gave it a shot.

The first few flavors I tried were … not so great. The fruit-on-the-bottom kind of weirded me out because the texture was weird. There was a tang to the Greek yogurt that Yoplait didn’t have.

But fat-free Greek yogurt is creamy. It’s substantial. It feels like you are eating something decadent. So I bid farewell to ordinary yogurt and stuck to the honey flavor for years.

I eventually branched out into lemon and pineapple (which is a 2 percent Greek yogurt, so it’s creamy like WHOA! as the cool kids were recently saying). A friend had mentioned Chobani having a cinnamon-apple flavor but I’d never seen it, so I was treating it like an urban legend.  I also tried and rejected several flavors, including mango, strawberry-banana and pomegranate.

The other day, I saw my boss eating a cup of Chobani that looked a little like the pomegranate. Because I’m nosy, I asked her what flavor it was. She told me it was blood orange and that it was delicious. I was intrigued, though I stopped short of asking her for a bite.

My new BFF, blood orange

And when I made a brief trip to the fancy grocery store to get fancy tea, I walked past a display that had blood orange Chobani front and center.

I bought two. I packed the first one in my lunch Tuesday, along with some sliced strawberries and a handful of Kashi cinnamon GoLean crunch, planning to make a parfait of sorts.

Let me tell you, readers. Blood orange Chobani is AWESOME. It’s all citrusy and sweet and creamy and oh wow. I need a moment. I might have found a new favorite treat. Together with the strawberries, it was ah-may-zing. It’s worth a separate trip to the fancy grocery store once a week, and perhaps a letter-writing campaign to the corporate headquaters of my not-so-fancy normal grocery store.

Fat-free Greek yogurt has become the dieter’s darling because it has double the protein of regular yogurt, which makes you feel more satisfied and keeps you from getting hungry so quickly.

Each 6-ounce cup of the blood orange flavor has 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 21 grams of carbs and 14 grams of protein. It’s a little too many calories to stand in for a snack, but I usually eat one as part of my lunch or as a quickie breakfast.

Rating: Four stars (out of possible four)

Cost: $1 per cup, which carries one serving

Availability/more information: http://www.chobani.com/products/where/

 

A tangled mess 02/15/2012


I am trying to break myself of the horrible habit of snacking mindlessly in front of the TV.

I don’t have any television channels. Instead, I have a Netflix subscription and watch episode after episode of T.V. shows without commercials. Right now, I’m watching the first season of Boardwalk Empire. Before that, I plowed through BBC’s Luther. I’m anxiously awaiting A Game of Thrones to come out. And I’m kind of addicted to Big Bang Theory after watching the first two seasons in the space of a week. (I am not proud of this).

My T.V. habits mean I can spend several hours on the couch (time I should be spending on a treadmill at the gym), polishing off bags of Cool Ranch Doritos and pints of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food with abandon. It’s not a coincidence that my best-laid diet plans usually fall apart around 11 p.m., when I get home from work exhausted and in need of mindless entertainment.

So to keep my hands busy, I’ve embarked on some craft projects. I have been designing greeting cards using stencils and colored pencils. And I bought some embroidery thread and tried a project I saw on Pinterest.( On it? Follow me!)

Pretty cool, huh?

My headphone cord usually ends up in a snarled tangle of wires (are there evil little elves who do this in the middle of the night?). So the Pinterest project I found had you cover the wires with embroidery thread like a friendship bracelet. You can’t really tell from the photo, but my first attempt was not perfect. I ran out of thread about halfway down the first part of cord, so I had to tie more in, which left a big knot in the middle. The second piece of cord (attaching the left ear to the part that plugs in) went much better. I finished the ends with a liberal coating of clear nail polish to prevent fraying. And if I ever actually go to the gym, I’ll bet I get a few comments on them.

So far, my craft projects are working. Not only have I made gifts for friends’ birthdays for the next several months, I am keeping my hands busy. I can’t eat if I’m occupied. I’m hoping I can retrain my brain not to automatically want to reach for the chips and ice cream when I sit down on the couch. Either that, or start an Etsy account to feed my craft habit.

Your turn: Do you snack in front of the television? What are some strategies you use to curb that habit?

 

What’s cooking: Rainbow in a bowl 02/12/2012


I know, I know. It’s a weird title. Let me explain.

As you know, I’m trying to cut back on the amount of carbs I eat. Back before I was diagnosed as a diabetic, I ate a lot of pasta. Whole wheat pasta! I thought I was being virtuous. Turns out, not so much.

I’ve written often about my unsettling love for tomato sauce. For me, nothing beats a big bowl of fusilli pasta and homemade meat sauce. I could eat that for the rest of my life and not get tired of it ever. But pasta is high-carb, so after I got over my denial of being a diabetic, I began looking for ways to cut carbs but still indulge in a bowl of hearty meat sauce.

Then I remembered this wacky thing my mom used to do when I was a teen. My mom is a terrific cook, but not very adventurous in the kitchen. But one day when we all sat down together for dinner, she plopped a half a squash down in front of me and then covered it in tomato sauce. I wasn’t even sure what to think at first. It was delicious!

It only looks scary, I promise!

Spaghetti squash, as it is called, is a pretty amazing thing. It has the same general shape as a watermelon, but a little more oblong. Inside, it’s sort of looks like butternut squash — it has some seeds in the center you have to scrape out after cutting the thing in half lengthwise. Then you put the squash cut-side down in a glass pan with a little water in the bottom into an oven heated to about 350 degrees. After about an hour, take it out, flip it cut-side up and run a fork through the flesh. You’ll get strands that look somewhat like angel-hair pasta.

Pour some sauce over it and you have a pretty hearty dinner without the carbohydrate bomb in a heaping bowl of pasta. Per cup of spaghetti squash (prepared with no added salt or fat), there’s only 42 calories, 10 grams of carbs and 2 grams of fiber. I usually split each half of the spaghetti squash into two servings, so there are 4 servings per squash.

I find spaghetti squash to be a little on the sweet side. Not butternut squash sweet, but definitely partway there. To counterbalance the sweetness, I make my sauce pretty spicy by adding ground cumin and chili powder.

Now — where’s the rainbow part of all of this, you ask? I added sautéed spinach, shredded carrot and some zucchini to my sauce to bulk up the veggies. So that gives you red, orange and green. Add the squash and you have most of the colors of the rainbow. Studies show you should be eating a variety of colors of veggies and fruits every day. This dish definitely adheres to that rule.

I also added very lean ground beef to my sauce to add some protein. This would also be good with sausage or meatballs, though.

I don’t have an exact count on calories, fat, carbs, fiber or protein. For Weight Watchers, I added up the points from the plain tomato sauce and for 2 oz of lean ground beef (which I mixed into each cup of sauce to make sure it was completely accurate). All the veggies are “free,” and I added about 2 cups of uncooked spinach, which cooks way down when sautéed in cooking spray, and about a half-cup each of shredded carrot and zucchini rounds. I counted the spaghetti sauce’s points because I used a jarred sauce as a base and the nutrition facts were on it. If you make tomato sauce from scratch and only use tomatoes and spices, it would be “free” too on the WW plan. All together, I calculated my meal as being 7 WW points.

I found a nifty little recipe calculator online that you can use to calculate recipes by entering the amount of ingredients you use and then dividing by the number of servings. Share your favorite tomato sauce recipe in the comments and let me know if you use the calculator to get nutrition info per serving.

So there you have it, a veggie-centric spaghetti and meat sauce that takes most of the carbs out of the equation. Enjoy!

Your turn: What exotic veggie or fruit have you tried and loved? How do you prepare it?

 

Human Guinea Pig: Pop Chips 02/07/2012


An occasional feature wherein Diabetic Diva reviews products that purport to help with a healthy lifestyle. She receives no compensation or sponsorship for these reviews. Curious about a product? Leave comments in the suggestions or e-mail diabetic.diva79@gmail.com.

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you can probably infer that I like snacks. In fact, snacking is largely to blame for how heavy I am today. I eat pretty healthy meals, lots of veggies and lean protein.

But snacks. Snacks kill me every time. I like coming home from work, plopping on the couch and stuffing my face. I especially love chips — that satisfying crunch and the fact they come in giant bags that last me a 45-minute television show on DVD.

Of course, curbing my snack habits is key to really getting serious about losing weight. It’s also important in my quest to lower my blood sugar and avoid being sentenced to insulin.

So what’s a fat girl to do? Well, I was in the chip aisle of the grocery store, staring longingly at a bag of Herr’s Cheese Puffs when I saw the bag of Popchips sitting forlornly with the “natural snacks.”

Nom nom nom

The nutrition info wasn’t bad at all — about 120 calories, 4 grams of fat and 18 grams of carbs per 1 ounce serving of the original potato kind. The fiber and protein are comparable to the average bag of chips — 1 gram of fiber and 2 grams of protein.

These are a little on the expensive side, about $3.50 for a 3 ounce bag, which comes out to more than a buck a serving. And despite my vow to get them home and immediately portion the chips out into 1 ounce servings so I wouldn’t be tempted to eat the whole bag in one sitting … Yep. You got it. I got distracted, stuck them in the carbohydrate cabinet (why yes, I do have an entire cabinet for snacks. Thanks for asking.)

And one night, when I was desperately hungry, I came across the bag again, opened it up and promptly ate the whole bag. For those keeping score at home, that’s a total of 360 calories, 12 grams of fat and (oh God, don’t make me look!) 54 grams of carbs.

I’d like to take a moment to say that, although I shouldn’t have eaten the whole bag in one sitting, it could be worse. Thank God there’s only 3 ounces in the whole bag, so there’s some built in damage control.

The chips were delicious, really light and super-crunchy with a pleasant amount of salt. I don’t like baked chips because I find them a little like munching on sand patties. These aren’t baked, according to the package, and they weren’t like eating the Saraha with a spade.

So, to review. They tasted good and they were fairly low in carbs, calories and fat. They gave me that hit of salt I like in a snack without being overpowering or dry. But they were expensive for the size of the package, and I didn’t have enough willpower not to eat the whole bag.

Rating: 2 and 1/2 out of 4 stars

Availability: Most grocery stores

Price: $3.50

More information: http://www.popchips.com/

 

Give me some sugar 02/04/2012

Filed under: snacking smart,Uncategorized — Diabetic Diva @ 8:51 am
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One of my pet peeves since being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is when someone says to me, “Ummm. Aren’t you diabetic? Should you be eating that [insert sugary treat here]?”

Hurts so good!

The myth that diabetics must cut out all forms of sugar for the rest of their sad little lives is a persistent one. And while I admit that I often go overboard on sugary treats, it’s frustrating that people think I am a “bad diabetic” when I indulge in a mini candy-bar.

Going right along with that pet peeve is another — people who think that a carb is simply sugar and high fructose corn syrup. A carb is a carb is a carb. And overdoing it on potatoes can be just as unhealthy as getting intimate with a bag of Jelly Bellys.

So when I came across this article on sugar and type 2 diabetes, I had to share. Feel free to pass it along to those misguided souls who wag their finger when they see a diabetic eating a doughnut.

 

Making the choice 02/02/2012


“Life is a sum of all your choices.” –  Albert Camus

Every day for more years than I care to remember, I have made a choice to be unhealthy.

I have chosen to polish off that bag of sour cream and onion potato chips while watching television. I have chosen to skip the gym. I have chosen the gargantuan steak and french fries when I meet friends at a restaurant. I have chosen to drive rather than walk to the corner store. I have chosen to ignore all good sense when it comes to what I eat , when I eat it and how I can make up for it with moving more.

There was a brief time a few years back that I chose differently. I chose to watch what I eat, to treat the gym as a requirement instead of an option, to take small steps to improve my life. As a result, I lost 75 pounds in the space of a year. I started dating a cute boy. I improved my wardrobe options. I didn’t get winded while climbing a flight of stairs.

Then I got a new job, in a new town where I didn’t know anyone. I had a rough break up with a boy I’d been dating. I had trouble with my new boss. And I started making choices that were different from the ones that I’d been making.

All of which brings me to today. The choices I’ve made caused me to be 75+ pounds overweight. The choices I’ve made led me to be diabetic. After I was diagnosed, I continued to make bad choices.

These, plus the three pills at night, cost me more than $80 a month.

My choices have led me to being on four different medications, which cost me more than $80 a month. And if I keep making the same choices, I will die of any number of complications that come from having diabetes.

So really, my diabetes is making me choose. I either get serious about losing weight, eating right and getting healthy, or I face kidney failure, heart attack, blindness and possible amputation. When you start thinking like that, there’s really no choice at all.

That’s what I keep having to remind myself about, when that little voice in my head starts whispering that there’s always time to start getting healthy tomorrow or next week. When I get angry about my diabetes, or sad about it. When I feel lazy about going to the gym, when I get a craving for french fries or chocolate-covered caramels.

I can choose the easy way, the habits I’ve had for years now. Or I can choose better habits, ones that will lead me to a svelte figure, cute clothes and working kidneys. The choice is up to me.

Your turn: What healthy choices do you struggle with?

 

February goals 02/01/2012

Filed under: Goals — Diabetic Diva @ 7:07 am
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Instead of coming up with some vague New Years resolution this year that I’d stick to for all of three weeks, I decided instead to set two goals per month in an effort to develop healthy habits. My goals for the month of January were to exercise for 210 minutes per week and to cut out fast food.

You don't want to disappoint Journey, do you?

I can’t say I stuck to either goal perfectly. Not that I’m expecting perfection. In fact, “good enough” is good enough for me. But I didn’t get in 210 minutes of exercise for two of the four past weeks. This is unacceptable, since it is a completely reachable goal.

The fast food ban was a little easier to adhere to. I grabbed a burger and fries only a handful of times in the last month. But when I did, I refrained to ordering the giant-size calorie bomb with a side of bacon and opted instead for a more modest order of a small burger, which I ate with only the bottom half of the bun, and small fries.

Even so, I’d be forced to declare the month a total wash if I was measuring it on formal goals alone. But I also made some other strides, specifically in joining Weight Watchers after admitting to myself that “trying to avoid most carb-laden junk food” as a diet plan wasn’t really working. And despite the struggles I had in sticking to the WW plan last week, I’m not ready to give up on WW altogether.

My New Years resolution plan all along was to build on, instead of replace, each month’s goals. So I’ll continue to strive to getting in 210 minutes of exercise each week and to avoid fast food restaurants. I’m adding two goals for February: Eating meals mindfully and getting some exercise outside of the gym at least once a week.

One of my biggest bad habits is eating meals and snacks in front of the television, while curled up with a book, on the computer or while driving. I think some of this is psychological: I don’t feel I deserve to enjoy my food, or if I’m not concentrating on eating “bad food,” it doesn’t count.  It’s also situational: I’m often pretty busy and it saves time to eat lunch at my desk while answering e-mails or in my car while driving to a meeting.

But it also makes food less satisfying and causes me to eat more than I need to to feel satisfied. By really focusing on the taste and texture of what I’m eating, I’ll likely feel more full. It will also force me to think twice before shoving junk food in my mouth.

Getting out and trying new forms exercise — whether it’s enjoying a walk outside, trying a Zumba class or finding an indoor tennis court — will help me continue to enjoy working out instead of seeing it as a chore. Going along with this goal is a plan to start asking friends to meet up for a hike or an aerobics class instead of for lunch or dinner. I socialize a lot with friends over food, which is bad for my diet and my wallet.

Despite the setbacks and failures I’ve had over the past month, I have to say that I feel hopeful about making the changes I know I need to make. I have a long journey ahead of me, but I feel like I can continue walking down the path. Thanks to everyone who has visited this blog over the past month. I’ve had more than 500 views in the past 30 days, and I’m so happy to have a group of readers who are supportive and understanding.

Let’s make it a great February!

Your turn: What’s your goal for February? What are your strategies to accomplish it?

 

Taking stock 01/26/2012


If you don’t have it, you can’t eat it.

That’s one of the Weight Watchers mantras. When I first heard it at a meeting last week, I took it to mean that if you didn’t have the bag of chips or the box of chocolates in the house, you wouldn’t be tempted.

I joined WW about seven years ago and had a lot of success with it. I lost 75 pounds in about a year. I gained it all back, of course, as soon as I stopped going to WW meetings. I joined again last Tuesday because I had to admit to myself that I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing in terms of how many calories I was supposed to eat or how many calories I was actually consuming. WW makes everything fairly easy by converting nutritional values into “points” and then giving everyone a points value to hit every day.

Getting back to the point of this post, I had forgotten how  much planning went into the first couple of weeks of WW. Just planning a day’s worth of eating to make sure you’re staying within your points but not eating them before noon is exhausting at first. I spent large chunks of time last week contemplating committing armed robbery at fast food restaurants, but instead of making off with the cash drawers, I’d be demanding burgers and fries. (I decided against it after realizing I’d have some horrible nickname. Leave your suggestions in the comments. Best one will win a prize as yet to be determined.)

Back to the point again! As I acclimate to life on the WW plan, I came to realize that the mantra means more than “don’t keep tempting foods around.” It also means keeping healthy foods around for easy, healthy meals and snacks.

Because I was a former weight watcher, I haven’t lost the habit of buying certain healthy foods at the store and keeping them around to build meals. Here’s a few suggestions:

PANTRY

I think I’ve mentioned my obsession with Trader Joe’s. We don’t have one in my little corner of Pennsylvania (someone get ON THAT PLEASE!) but when I visit my folks in Virginia, I always go over and stock up. I usually get two boxes of Trader Joe’s brand Whole Wheat Couscous, which I use like brown rice. It takes literally 5 minutes to make. I also pick up a couple of sauces to add zip to meat and veggies. Among my favorites are the green curry simmer sauce, satay peanut sauce and pesto sauce. None of the three are what you would consider low-cal or low-fat, but used in moderation, they all fit into my eating plan. I usually also have some jarred spaghetti sauce, one that is low-salt and has no added sugar or fat, on hand.

Additionally, I pick up a couple of BIG bags of lower-carb trail mix when it’s on sale at Target or the grocery store and then portion it out into single servings with my trusty kitchen scale. I also have mini-bags of microwave popcorn (again, read nutrition labels carefully) for night-time snacks. Quick-cooking oats, Minute brand brown rice and whole wheat pasta round out my pantry basics. All three are high in fiber, which bring down their net carb content, and are easy to cook.

A quick note: With the exception of the TJ’s items, most of the pantry staples go on sale once a month or so. I stock up when they’re on sale, or find a coupon, to bring the cost down a little. I buy the Sunday paper each week and go through the grocery store sale circulars and the glossy coupons circulars and plan my meals and “stock up trips” around what’s on sale. A little planning and the store club cards usually saves me $500+ a year.

FREEZER

I buy family packs of boneless, skinless chicken breasts when they go on sale. Then I separate them out into packs of two in freezer bags (make sure you write the date on the freezer bag!). Then I can pull out one bag for each meal. Ditto on ground beef, steak and pork — wait until they’re on sale, portion it out at home and then fill your freezer with a month’s worth of meat.

I also buy frozen veggies, usually the kind you can steam in the bag but with no added fat or sugar. In addition to using these in stir fry dinners, I also can heat some up and eat them as a snack with a little pesto or cheese. Frozen edamame (the kind still in the pod) is a delicious snack. Heat it up and shake some low-sodium soy sauce on them to add a little more flavor.

Deli flats, small pitas and low-cal, high-fiber English muffins can stand in for toast, be used as a base for mini-pizzas or sandwiches or even as a snack with some hummus. I keep them frozen and just pull one out at a time. Twenty seconds in the microwave should defrost them, and then I toast them or stick them in the oven to warm ’em up.

I also buy sugar-free popsicles — usually fudgesicles and the cherry-grape-orange ones — as a sweet treat. It’s not the same as ice cream, but it’s often a decent substitute.

Finally, I keep a couple of frozen diet meals around. I know they’re high in sodium and they don’t taste as good as a homemade meal. But if it’s really busy at work, a Lean Cuisine can help me stick to my eating plan.

FRIDGE

I usually pick up some apples and a grapefruit because they have a longer shelf-life than more delicate fruits (like peaches and strawberries). Since I’m REALLY REALLY picky about fruit  (I will not eat fruit that’s the least bit squishy or brown. I know how weird it is), staying fresh for more than a few days is a good selling point.

I also buy a bag of lettuce mix for quickie salads and a bag of spinach, which does really well as an omelette filling. Sliced mushrooms (also for omelettes), roma tomatoes and a big bag of baby carrots are also regularly occurring cast members in my produce drawer.

Finally, I keep a bottle of low-sodium soy sauce and a bottle of minced garlic in the fridge, as well as some bottled sparkling water, a couple of containers of Greek yogurt and some low-cal string cheese.

And that’s about it, in terms of what I *ALWAYS* have in the house. I replenish these as I use them, so the spaghetti sauce might need to be replaced once a month or every other month. Fruit and veggies get used up faster, as does the chicken, the string cheese and (sadly) the popsicles.

Keeping a well-stocked pantry takes away some of the difficulty of planning a meal. Because (say it with me!) you can’t eat what you don’t have.

Your turn: What’s in your pantry, fridge and freezer?