I cringe at the word “diet” in the title here, but it doesn’t mean diet in the sense of Adkins, Paleo, South Beach (anyone remember that one?), and others that have gone out of style years ago, like Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, and on and on.
Google the noun “diet” and it can mean two different things:
the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.“a vegetarian diet”
a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.“I’m going on a diet”
I’m talking about the first definition here. In #2, all I see is the word “restricts,” and that’s a bummer.
A few weeks ago, my apartment building had its annual Spring Fling get-together in the lobby. Isn’t that so sweet and neighborly? I finally met our new neighbors two doors down from us. I was excited to meet them because I heard the woman was a chef. Since moving into this building about a year ago, I’ve also been getting to know two other female neighbors who edit/write cookbooks and have cats. Needless to say (but I’m gonna anyway), I’m so in love with the vibe here — our apartment, neighborhood, borough, city. So anyway, over paper plates full of crudités, crackers, cheese, and dips, this chef and I shared about our work and our blogs, and she then sent me a helpful email following up on our conversation. She said she’d love reading what I do food-wise, day in and day out. My everyday routine or tricks. I appreciate the feedback.
Well, as someone with about four part-time jobs including freelance writing and as part of the editorial staff at Chowhound, I hardly have a routine. I love the flexibility of my working life, but I do miss the ease of scheduling my other plans around one full-time job with a set schedule. But I do have some things I usually do on the regular.*
*This list ended up being way too long, so I’m going to break it up and post it in sections.
Drink a lot of water.
Earth-shattering, I know. I drink a full glass of water (with lemon as often as possible) when I wake up, and I try to always have something to drink nearby throughout the day. For my first drink of the day, I down room-temperature water with a squirt of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Why? Umm, because I’m thirsty. But there’s more. Drinking warm lemon water first thing in the morning promotes digestion, alkalizes the body, and boosts your immunity, say wellness gurus. It slows the absorption of food so there’s more time for your body to grab onto those nutrients. Also, the same area of the brain that controls hunger also controls thirst. Sometimes when you feel hungry, you’re really thirsty. So all throughout the day, I drink a lot: Water, green tea, calorie-free flavored seltzer water, water with a splash of juice, and coffee. I do NOT drink juice. Fruit juice, regardless of whether it’s 100 percent natural juice with no added sugar, is still liquid sugar. Instead, I eat my fruit so I get the fiber of the fruit skins, the membranes, etc. That fiber keeps me fuller, and it slows the absorption of the sugar, so there’s less of a spike of energy and then the crash that makes you crave another spike. If I’m going to enjoy something sweet, which I like to do every day, a couple times a day (I’m working on that), I want to eat my sweets, not drink them. That also means no soda. Why not have a bowl of ice cream instead, if we’re going to consume 30+ grams of sugar? I want the indulgence to be worth it! And I’ve also heard that diet sodas are worse because it tricks your brain into thinking you’ve given it sugar, so it still spikes, but then the crash is worse because your body realizes it was all a big fat lie and now it really wants sugar. Now. Whew. That was a long one. They’re shorter from here on out. (That may be a lie.)
Eat 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal daily.
I put this stuff on or in my cereal, oatmeal, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, or smoothies. It does all these great things. Flaxseed meal makes you full. It’s loaded with fiber and has some protein. According to Greek researchers, it can lower your blood pressure, which used to be high when I was overweight and had hypertension. Those little seeds are a rich source of micronutrients, dietary fiber, manganese, vitamin B1, and the essential fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid, also known as omega-3. It reduces inflammation, the underlying cause of practically every ailment, I’ve heard. So why not?
Keep a lookout for my tips #3-#10, coming up next!