WIAW on Monday

I missed WIAW last week simply because I forget to take pictures of my food some days (gasp...I know). Anyways, I am back at it this week with pictures of what I ate on Monday. Breakfast was my usual staple of oatmeal with peanut butter mixed in. BUT this morning I stirred in about 1/2-1 tablespoon of maple syrup because I am overflowing in this stuff (pun 100% intended). I actually used to fear maple syrup because I love this sweet stuff so so so much. I remember dumping maple syrup on my pancakes and waffles when I was a kid. Like if it wasn't drenched then I was not pleased. And we were a pancake and waffle family, none of that egg stuff for breakfast. No sir. Anyways, I always found myself craving sugar for the rest of the day when I had maple syrup for breakfast and would consequently devour all sweets in sight. It wasn't until I realized that I needed some protein for staying power and that by restricting myself of maple syrup (and other sweets) except for weekends made for a heavy pour when I "could" have it. So now, after a maple weekend I am trying to incorporate a little bit of maple syrup here and there to satisfy my cravings in smaller amounts more frequently. I also had some maple candy that Julie's BF made when I visited her and that stuff pretty much melted in my mouth. This is similar to my approach with chocolate these days. By allowing myself some sweets everyday and any time during the day I usually can better control my cravings. Most days I have 1-2 squares of chocolate or incoporate it into my snack (trail mix) or a meal (oatmeal) and other days I have a few handfuls of chocolate chips. It's a learning process and nobody and no body is perfect (Thank you Hannah Montana).

After walking up to campus in the rain I met up with Molly to grab coffee before starting work. We got to the cafe at the hospital and I noticed they had Black Forest Speeder and Earl's coffee. I turn to tell Molly and her response was, "Today is our day, Megan." So true. So so true. This coffee is for real, what dreams are made of. I also bought an apple to have as a mid morning snack. I have been finding with increased mileage (I hit 41.5 miles last week) that I get hungry mid-morning. I have been trying to have some fruit when the hunger kicks in to increase my total carbohydrates as well as antioxidants.

Lunch consisted of kale and shredded brussels sprouts massaged with Trader Joe's Goddess dressing. Go buy this stuff. Seriously. Get up right now and go buy it. It's is so creamy and delicious and has a subtle mustardy, vinegary taste to it. Molly and I love it. She actually introduced it to me. She dressed a salad with it last week and I fell in love and my salads have not lived up to it. Teach me your ways Molly. Today's salad (with not enough dressing) also had two clementines and a handful of peanuts and a handful of almonds for protein. I wasn't in the mood for beans today and am finding myself limited in the protein department (why don't I buy more animal protein...my body needs the iron right now). I had pretzels on the side for my grain.

After working on our project for 5 hours straight (hello productivity!) I headed over to the gym for a quick run. I knew I needed to shake out my legs today after 17 miles yesterday especially since I work quite a bit this week. Unfortunately I did not give myself enough time to get the full 4 miles in before class, but I did manage 3.75. Julie should be happy with that...

I got to class 2 minutes before it began and was nice and sweaty. I have turned into that person. Just don't sit next to me. I proceeded to eat a Siggi's yogurt with corn flakes mixed in (see above picture). This week at the store I bought corn flakes because I was craving them (go me!). I imagine a bowl of yogurt, cornflakes, peanut butter, and banana slices in my near future. YUM!

I walked home from class and tried calling my sister but she didn't pick up (shocker...note the sarcasm). It was a dreary day, but some music helped a little bit. What helped the most was cooking dinner! I forget how much I love putting some effort into a meal. And honestly, not following a recipe is so much more enjoyable to me. I like zoning out and just going with the flow. Although I was disappointed when I forget to saute an onion tonight. I recently bought a bag of onions to increase their usage in my meals. Tonight I made sautéed eggplant and mushrooms and finally figured out the trick to perfectly cooked eggplant! Start with a little extra oil and just keep cooking over low to medium heat. The longer they cook the better. I usually get worried I am going to burn my pan and stop too early while the eggplant is still a little crunchy. No es bueno. I also cooked some whole wheat gnocchi, which literally cooks in under 4 minutes (once the water is boiling). The day I found this box in the pasta aisle really changed my world for the better. While all of that was cooking I microwaved some turkey sausage. When everything was done I portioned out the gnocchi, saving some for leftovers, and mixed with more oil and some parmesan cheese. Then I added the turkey sausage and veggies before topping with some crumbled mozzarella. Seasonings included garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper. It wasn't a colorful meal, but it was SUPER tasty. I really wanted a glass of red wine to go with it, but didn't end up having any. I was feeling a bit dehydrated and didn't think that would be the best choice. Instead I ended the meal with two squares of chocolate and zero guilt. As my professor said today, it's okay to have dessert every night. It's okay. Grant yourself permission and see what happens. It's all about curiosity and being open to change.

(Sorry it's not prettier, but the taste it a-okay)

I am spending the night drinking Trader Joe's Organic Ginger Turmeric tea and working on a study guide for a test I have this week. Wish me luck! It's going to be a long week of homework, studying, and working, but next week I have off from work and JULIE COMES TO VISIT!!! I may spend more time working on our bucket list for the weekend. Topping the list is going to see Beauty and the Beast (and eating movie theatre popcorn).

Sweet Teeth and My Journey

My family has sweet teeth. I love sweets so much that I definitely have more than one sweet tooth...and it's definitely genetic :) Whenever I go home my dad tries to convince me to make him cookies and if I agree he will eat quite a few when I am not looking. I've started saving him cookies whenever I don my baking cap. img_5629-1

All over the internet these days you see posts about "clean eating", how to cut back on sugar, healthy this, unhealthy that, and. so. on. I cringe when I see these titles and I never read the posts. As a future dietitian I understand that certain foods are more nutritious than others, but I do not label foods as healthy or unhealthy or good or bad. Yes the vegetables, whole grains, and legumes that I ate for dinner were more nutritious than the handfuls (yes, multiple) of chocolate chips that I had afterwards. But food does not have moral value and so the chocolate chips cannot be bad. Chocolate chips are simply cane sugar, cocoa, butter, soy lecithin, and vanilla extract. And you know what, they tasted delicious.

I have been trying to be more mindful lately and really that means being aware of internal and external hunger cues. Today my hormones and my level of tiredness were definite sources of motivation that led me to the cupboard. And I knew I was in a chocolate mood and I accepted that. Therefore, I let myself finish the bag, which was a few handfuls. Sure I could have had less, but I chose to eat the chocolate chips. I knew I was eating out of tiredness, frustration, emotions, etc. Today was one of those days after 8 hours of work and a midterm that I did not have the energy to be intuitive and to analyze why I was eating dessert and what I could do differently. My schedule has been completely out of whack since Spring Break and I acknowledged that and let myself have a larger than usual treat. It's been a trend lately.

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(my treat a few nights ago)

This is not to say that I am not using mindfulness, because I am. I am aware of the reasons behind my choice to eat the chocolate chips. I am aware why I felt driven to consume them.

Some people argue that "people would eat healthier if they just had more willpower..." Is that really all it is? If I had more will power tonight would I have eaten fewer chocolate chips? Maybe. Maybe not. Would I have felt less stress? No. I probably would have felt more stressed by depriving myself of the instant gratification that comes from chocolate for me. And stress can cause it's own problems on the body. Hello tension headaches, upset stomached, and anxiety. Would I have been healthier if I had eaten fewer chocolate chips? No. Because a few handfuls of chocolate is not going to define who I am or my eating habits or eating style. For the most part I consume whole grains, fruit, vegetables, lean meats, legumes, etc. Sure I love my chocolate and most days I only have a piece or two to cure that craving, but some days I have a few handfuls of chocolate chips and other days I have a thick slice of peanut butter pie.

Eating these foods do not make me a failure. Healthy versus unhealthy is not black and white like the media and society makes it seem, but rather a continuum and honestly any foods can be a part of a healthy lifestyle. I feel that I am being healthy by allowing myself a few extra handfuls of chocolate to unwind after a long day and what has already been a long week. I am putting less stress on my body. I have added to my health by consuming nutrient dense foods throughout the day and these chocolate chips do not mitigate or take away from that. It's all about the entire picture.

And it's not just about willpower. One of my favorite presentations by one of my professors talks about willpower and how you only have so much of it. If you use all of your willpower and decision making capabilities in other areas of your life (aka at work and school or while exercising) then it makes using willpower to eat "better" that much harder. So no, willpower is not the answer.

Eat to obtain nutrients for your body.

Eat for pleasure.

Eat alone.

Eat with friends.

Eat at home.

Eat at restaurants.

Give your body the nutrients that it needs and deserves, but also acknowledge that eating is so much more than biological. It's social and cultural. It's an event and it can be therapeutic. For these reasons eating is complex. This is why normal eating emphasizes eating a variety of foods (while not labeling foods as good or bad) and overeating or under-eating on occasion. Normal eating is broad and all encompassing so eat and be you. Don't let eating (or certain foods) define you. 

What I Ate Wednesday: Long Run

These are all my eats (and adventures) on the day of a long run. I woke up early to get some coffee and fuel before my run. Typical toast with peanut butter and jelly and a banana with more peanut butter. Double cup of coffee on the side. Enjoyed in my polka dot bathrobe.

My schedule called for an 8 mile easy run today. Rebecca and I met up at 7:30 and spent the next hour and a half chatting about this, that, and everything. I love our runs! Luckily it was slow today because the sidewalks weren't in the best shape. I guess that's winter in Vermont for ya. I'm just not used to it because we haven't had this much snow in a while (aka years).

After my run I came home to have a quick snack. I was hungry! I had an apple and a glass of chocolate milk. Let me tell you chocolate milk after a run tastes A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. You get carbs, protein, fluid, and sodium all in one. Talk about a perfect post-run food. Or just a perfect food.

Then I went cross country skiing for the first time in two years (in Vermont)! I went a few weeks back with my sister in New Hampshire, but I struggled with sticky snow then. Today was so perfect. Shining sun, not too cold, and great company. We haven't had much time to catch up so it was great. So glad Colleen had the day off today even if it was a quick trip! We spent an hour on the trails before going to get bagels.

Let's talk bagels. This week I went to the right place to use my coupon and was not disappointed. Colleen told me to try the Vermont Country bagel which is sesame, poppy, flax, salt, and fennel. The fennel added such a delicious, subtle flavor! I got plain cream cheese and some peanut butter on the side (try the combo). Sometimes I worry about the amount of peanut butter that I eat...but then I remember how delicious it is. I also needed some protein and since a bagel with cream cheese was free, just opted for some extra nut buttah. I'll be dreaming about this bagel for a while now...

I came home and showered for the longest time because I was so cold from running and then skiing. But it was all so worth it.

After showering I took up a spot on the futon because I was tiredA Could actually have used a nap, but instead found myself on Instagram (guilty pleasure) and then watching Chicago Med (another guilty pleasure). I snacked on some carrots as my hunger kicked in.

A few hours later I was hungry again (just go with it Megan) so I tried one of my granola bars, which had MORE peanut butter. I was going to have some soup and then thought of a yogurt, but I really wanted to try a granola bar. So I listened to my cravings and had one. I followed the recipe that Erin recently posted for Trail Mix Peanut Butter Granola Bars. I used steel cut oats, rolled oats, and wheat bran for the dry ingredients and maple syrup, mixed nut butter, and peanut butter for the sticky ingredients. Unfortunately I didn't pay close enough attention to realize these were "no bake" and when I didn't have coconut oil I subbed canola oil...which turned out to be too "liquidy" to hold the bars together. So I added a big scoop of peanut butter (probably 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons more)...more staying power! For my mix-ins I used raisins and chopped chocolate from my freezer. They certainly aren't as pretty as the ones Erin made, but it's a work in progress and they taste delicious so that helps. Now I have muffins, energy balls (still loving) and granola bars for snacks this week...Not to mention that I have been trying to have more yogurt for snacks...good thing I am always hungry because I am overflowing in snacks.

And now I am hungry AGAIN and thinking of what to have for my third...or fourth snack of the day. Listening to my hungry and not feeling guilty about it. Having some yogurt and feeling much better!

Originally my plans had been to be a complete bum all day before having to work this weekend. But lucky for me, Christine texted me. I couldn't help but get excited when she asked "What are you doing tonight???" Good thing she knows the way to my heart and was not suggested a wild night, but actually a girls night in. Just. What. I. Needed/Wanted.

I got to her house around 6:30pm. We had been tossing dinner ideas back and forth including whether to order in or cook. We decided it could be fun to cook and found a take out recipe that we could cook ourselves. Last week I saw these egg roll bowls while reading The Real Life RD's blog and I had been waiting for an excuse to try it! Although I hate cutting cabbage...it just multiplies...

Cooking with friends (in a big kitchen!) is one of my favorite things. Especially when you can gossip and drink wine in your sweats while doing it. I brought over a bottle of Apothic Crush that Christine fell in love with. I love all Apothic flavors, but Apothic Red will always have my heart. Christine had some other wine that was quite tasty! Any wine that calls the flavor "jammy" I have to try. I love jam...

Getting back to dinner. I bought some peanuts, scallions, and sesame oil this week at Shaws to inspire more ethnic dishes and let me tell you I am SO glad I did. The peanuts made the dish and I forgot how much I love peanuts, it's no wonder I love nut butter. Also, tip: look for sesame oil in the international section. By the olive oil the price is nearly double! Crazy, I know.

Christine and I were gushing over this dish. So much so that we both wanted more and nearly cried of happiness when we saw that it serves two. Thinking critically, the dish is almost all vegetables except for the meat. So we polished off this wok of egg roll goodness. With wine of course.

I'm being completely honest here with my eats and saying that even though I was stuffed, I did have chocolate. I brought over the Valentine's day heart that I bought myself and we tried a few of the flavors. Roman nougat is so weird...legitimately looks like bubble gum on the inside. And fruit and nut caramel is so dang chewy I nearly choked on it. Christine refused to try the orange cream. Seriously, who likes orange cream? I also had two homemade Reese's because...do I need a reason? So delicious.

We ended up just talking for hours and lounging on her extremely comfy couch. Next time maybe we will watch a movie...if we don't just end up talking again! Love friendships that are this easy :)

On my drive home I was stuffed and found myself craving all the fruit and vegetables on Saturday. Our bodies are amazing aren't they?!