I am sitting across from a coworker on a break.
“Do you eat eggs everyday?”, he asks me.
“Yes, almost everyday in a sandwich, or over a baked potato” I reply.
“Hmmm,” he says, “ well, I could do that. It would probably be better than McDonald’s.”
“Yes, it certainly is better. I just cook the eggs in the microwave, and add spinach, onion, and cheese to it.” I answer.
“It looks good,” he replies, “but I thought microwaves are bad for you.”
I pause,( trying to be careful about what I say) and then reply, “They might be, but I choose not to worry about that right now. The alternative for me would be to cook every single meal, reheat in an oven, or eat cold food. I choose to microwave my food on glass or ceramic. I’m only really worried about reheating plastic.”
I am standing across from a very successful businessman, at least 40 years my senior.
He is confused about why he is gaining weight in his midsection, though he has a strict diet of just fruits and vegetables. I am trying to convince him that he needs protein in his diet. I have also let him know that I do not feel comfortable training him if he is not getting enough calories, because it will only do more harm.
For every single protein source I suggest, he has a come back for why it is an unhealthy choice. I ask if he would like to be a vegan, so I can suggest how to get complete proteins from plants. I tell him there are organizations that will even deliver prepared organic foods to his door. He tells me that he does not trust organic foods.
I lock eyes with him and say, “Do you realize you have researched your way into paralysis?”
“What do you mean?” he replies.
“You have researched everything about all the food you like to eat, and now you are only drinking juice.” I answer. “ You cannot just drink juice for the rest of your life.”
“But everything else is bad for you,” he replies with mild irritation. “ You don’t understand, I’m packing the Nutribullet full of fruits and vegetables.”
I then ask him if he realizes why I am so concerned, and then ask him for permission to explain my stance. Once he gives permission, I explain the importance of protein. By the end of my lecture I have him convinced that he needs protein. However, he is still stuck on how he is going to start getting it. I pull my vegan protein powder (I get at my local gym) out of my backpack, and tell him he can have the rest of it.
“Is this the best protein powder?” he asks.
“I have no idea, but it does not have anything unhealthy in it. I have been using it the last couple months.” I reply.
I let him look at the ingredients and he seems to find it acceptable, but he hands it back to me. He won’t take it because it’s mine. I tell him to give me $45, and I will get him his own. He pulls the money out of his pocket and gives it to me. He then asks me about my experience. I give him a run down of my training experience, and my teaching experience in teaching physical education and personal training.
“I’m just going to listen to you from now on. This is all too confusing.” He says.
“All I want, is for you to do what is right for you and your life.” I reply. “ I don’t want you living in fear of everything you put in your mouth.”
The truth is, I want all of us to stop living in fear. With all the mixed messages regarding food, I am seeing person after person either paralyzed, or totally giving up trying to “eat healthy”.
With all of this information so easily accessible, we have to make our own way. What is good for one person is not good for the another person. We cannot say with certainty that one diet fits all people. We must develop our own diet plan. I have decided the best way to speak with you all about this, is to explain mine.
I am a single mom, with a food budget for me and my son of $250. He and I are very active, and do we not have any food allergies. I regularly shop for us at Aldi, Trader Joes, and Price Chopper. These stores prices fit my budget , and are within 10 minutes of my home. I cook all meals we eaten at home in big batches on Tuesdays and Saturdays. I freeze leftovers for homemade “TV dinners” and meals away from home.
These are the foods we eat regularly. I do not always have them all at once, but tend to have at least 3 options of each type of food on hand.
Beware: you are certain to find foods some would consider “unhealthy”.
In my refrigerator:
Fruits and Vegetables
Protein and Fat
In my freezer:
Fruit for frozen protein shakes or blended with yogurt as dessert.
In my pantry:
Protein and Fat
protein powder- plant based
Pasta and other carbs
brown and white rice
whole grain bread
whole wheat and regular flour
brown and regular sugar
Jacob’s extra snacks
Honey Crispy Oats (like Cheerios)
My food menu for me and my son is pretty simple. I just put protein, complex carbohydrates or fruit/vegetables, with a serving of fat together for my meals.
I do not count calories, but I do watch serving sizes. Early in my profession I started memorizing how many calories were in different foods, and now I have it stored in my head. I believe in a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. My personal breakdown tends to be 30% fat, 40% carbohydrates, and 30% protein. For the average person counting calories and figuring out percentages can be very tedious. You can find different recommendations everywhere. It can be very hard to figure out what is right for you.
I am very happy to have found a nutrition certification that follows a servings size model, with breakdowns of carbohydrate, protein, and fat recommendations, I can agree with.
Look at these PN nutritional guides when building your plate.
Please let me know if you have questions!