Written for the River Current Publication
I often sit quietly and listen to the gals at work chat about food and the current diet trends they are entertaining. It is interesting to hear of their successes and struggles. I remember a few years ago working in an office where the gals all had a neat little calorie calculator for a certain diet plan that was popular at the time. I was intrigued and fascinated as they tediously tracked and monitored their calorie intake…listening to their strategies of manipulating the plan so they could have dessert (or a beer or two) on a Friday night.
There was great comradery in their efforts and to be honest, for some crazy reason I felt left out. I wanted one of those damn calculators too! (Don’t scream, but I have never been invited to participate in this Calorie Counting Club. To give you an idea, my nickname in high school was Stick Woman...ugh. Stick women are never invited to play in these weight watching games.)
One thing I have learned after years of listening (combined with my nutrition training), is that diets are not ‘one-size-fits-all’. If one individual is having great success with a particular diet, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone in the office will have that same success. There is no one perfect way of eating that works for everybody. There is a term for that; it is called bio-individuality. Everyone has their very own specific needs for his or her own health that is specific to them…according to their age, constitution, gender, size, lifestyle and ancestry.
We are living in an age of modern nutrition. This means that almost everyone is on (or has been on) one diet or another, diet books are best sellers, and every day we are informed of a new discovery proclaiming the health benefits of a certain food or the best way to lose 10 pounds in a week. It is impossible to keep up with all of this information and even harder to determine what is pertinent to our own personal health.
So, what is the answer? Listen to your body. It knows what foods you need, when it needs them and what is best for you. Make small changes like adding more fresh vegetables and fruits to your diet, as well as whole grains. Learn to pay attention when you eat, so you can decide when you’re full. Learn to recognize the difference between ‘real’ hunger and eating just because you’re bored or stressed. Cook healthy foods at home, make better choices when you eat out, and eat out less. Head to the kitchen and cook real food. Check out what constitutes a ‘portion’ size so you can stop over-eating at a meal. Learn to slow down and savor your food instead of rushing through a meal because you have things to do or while working at your desk. Turn off the TV and enjoy the food that is in front of you and those that surround you. Eat what I call ‘real food’.
Even though each person is a distinct individual, we all share the same instincts. Don’t ignore the personal messages your body is sending. We are what we eat.
Here is a Martha Stewart recipe that I tweaked a bit...it will be great to try out on my ‘dieting’ friends at the office next week.
No-Bake Chocolate-Almond Oat Bars
1 cup smooth almond butter (Or peanut butter works beautifully, if you have that on hand)
1/3 cup honey
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups rolled old-fashioned oats *Use oats processed in a gluten-free facility, if you are avoiding gluten.
½ cup chopped toasted almonds
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (1/1/4 cups)
½ tsp. sea salt
1. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper.
2. Melt almond butter (or peanut butter), honey and butter in a saucepan over medium heat; stirring frequently.
3. Remove from heat and add chocolate; stirring until melted. Add remaining ingredients; stirring until combined.
4. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Refrigerate until set up; at least 3 hours. Remove from pan and cut into 24 bars. Store in refrigerator up to 3 days…if they last that long!