A is for Arranging Meals
Yes, I’m using a fancy, forced method of describing meal planning so that I can begin writing ABC Blogging (Blogging Through the Alphabet) with Marcy over at Ben and Me again. Though I’m writing about meal planning it is about arranging (and rearranging certain kinds of foods.)
Recently, I broke down, jumped on the bandwagon and purchased the much-raved-about-on-Facebook-book Trim Healthy Mama. With the government shutdown interfering with family cash flow, the book being temporarily out of stock, and being generally impatient I purchased the epub version for NOOK. (Note: I am not displeased with my choice but I *will* be ordering the physical book as soon as I am able. Having the real book will make searching for information and following recipes so much easier!)
If you regularly read my blog, you’ll remember that my husband (only 41 at the time!) had a very mild heart attack in early June. Since then we’ve been on a mission to to improve our health by taking baby steps to better eating. (I wrote one blog post about Better Butter! and I do plan on writing more!) It’s been a struggle. Eating healthy isn’t monetarily cheap but spending less money on food is far too expensive for our health.
I hate the word diet. Yes, hate is a strong word. I know that one meaning of diet is simply what you normally eat as in the sentence: Lions survive on a steady diet of zebra. But for humans diet usually means restriction of great tasting food and being forced to eat fewer calories comprised of cardboard like substances. And for the most part those diets exist for the sole purpose of losing weight. So you lose your desired amount of weight, assuming of course that you don’t give up, and then you go back to your old way of eating. Oh sure there are some diets that purport to be a way of life so that you can stick with them forever. Weight Watchers and The South Beach Diet come to mind. They are eating plans that you follow *forever*. (And I should note that for some people they work. They work well and I even *know* some people for whom they have worked well. *I* am not one of them.)
I was very resistant to the idea of Trim Healthy Mama. Isn’t it just another low-carb fad diet that tells me I can’t eat the yummy foods I want to eat? No, it’s not. At least that’s not how I’m viewing it. THM is a low-glycemic index way of eating. Much of the science and nutrition included in the book just confirmed all the information I had researched on my own. A diet low in fat but high in carbs even if those carbs are whole grain and full of fiber is not healthy.
You’ll have to visit the Trim Healthy Mama website or check out the Facebook Group to get more information on the plan. I want to share how I am arranging meals to be healthier and to fit, as close to possible, in the THM plan. Foods or meals are either S (Satisfying, use fat as the main fuel), E (Energizing, use carbs as the main fuel source) or FP (Fuel Pull, which is designed to use your own body as a fuel source.) The book does a great job of explaining how our body uses fuel and insulin. The science based premise utilizes one fuel type at a time or, in the case of Fuel Pull, no fuel. This has changed the way I think about meals and meal planning! I am now arranging my meals based on fuel source.
I used to base my meals around the main carb source: pasta, rice or potatoes. Every meal. Every day. And I never thought about the fats. I just made sure that I ate less of the starchy carb, didn’t serve corn or peas and rice, pasta or potatoes at the same time and I made sure that we were using the good healthy fats and oils. We did lots of stir-fries. Those are healthy, right? I mean they are full of good for you vegetables and I would only use healthy oil and we used to use brown rice but hey even white rice couldn’t be that bad with the good oil and the fiber from the great veggies! Well, I’ll be rearranging those stir-fries as well.
Now I’m arranging meals based on what type of fuel. Do I feel like something rich and satisfying? Then I plan an S based meal which might look like this: Chicken breasts seasoned with different herbs and sautéed in butter (or in the summer marinated and grilled), roasted veggies such as asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower. I roast the veggies with butter and garlic (better butter actually). Then serve with a salad made from lots of greens and maybe some cucumbers and radishes with a creamy salad. I swear I did not miss the pasta, rice, or potatoes!
Maybe, I’m wanting something less rich. Carrots are slightly higher in carbs so a full serving pushes into the E category. The other night we had chicken breasts seasoned with Cajun spices and grilled (no fat). I served it with diced carrots and salad. This time the dressing was a vinegar based dressing with a small amount of oil which made it an E style meal.
Right now I’m arranging meals and snacks on a day to day basis. As I get more of a handle on this way of eating, I’ll start arranging meal types into weekly plans and maybe . . . just maybe . . . I’ll get back to some rotating menus but with S, E and FP style meals.
My goal is to improve the health of my family, specifically I want to use Trim Healthy Mama style of eating to improve my husband’s cholesterol level and get my blood sugar under control so that I don’t develop full blown diabetes. The weight loss that this program promotes is just a lovely side effect. (Another truly wonderful side effect? Losing fat. The scale says I’ve lost 4 lbs. in the two weeks that we’ve been eating like this but my clothes tell me that I must be losing inches as well.)