How To: Stay Healthy When You’re a Food Lover
Enjoying food and keeping your body feeling and looking how you want it to can be a fine balance. For some of us, staying in shape is effortless; for others, it’s a constant battle. We would never claim to be experts, but we do have experience in working with food while trying to make that fact less than obvious to those around us. These are our purely anecdotal thoughts on looking and feeling good while eating fabulously.
**Tips and Tricks**
Eat only what you like. This goes for both unhealthful and healthful foods. Just don’t bother with foods you don’t enjoy, unless for reasons of politeness or adventure. If you can’t seem to develop a taste for cheesecake, don’t worry about it. You’ll still retain your foodie status. If you love pizza, a slice or two will leave you satisfied in a way that eating bulgur wheat, if you hate it, never will. Cara’s never been able to develop cravings for yogurt, though for many years she tried. Containers tend to go bad in her fridge. Eventually she stopped buying it altogether, since after eating it, she rarely felt full or satisfied. Ditto for Phoebe and fruit: she knows it’s healthful but detests it, and so she abandoned ship. There are other sources of vitamin C than oranges!
Cook. This may seem obvious to read on a food blog, but pretty much everything you make at home will be better for you than what you eat at restaurants and take-out joints. Sure, if you deep fry your potatoes, that stops being true. But in apartments like ours, when deep frying makes the whole place reek of oil for days, wouldn’t the easier and smarter option be to roast them? Precisely.
Add some healthful foods to your diet. If your favorite foods all seem to be along the lines of burgers, fries, and milkshakes, you’ll have to do a little bit of exploring. Discover a few ingredients that are easy for you to incorporate into your cooking. Boxes of baby spinach are great for this; the leaves practically melt into sautées and such. Developing a taste for some raw veggies and fruits is never bad. Side salads can be beautiful things.
Find balance. You probably already know this one. Don’t eat the exact same thing or type of thing for breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. Get variety, in the form of food groups, types of cuisine, and even meal size.
But don’t stress if balance eludes you. Every so often, you’re going to find yourself eating cake at 9am, overstuffing yourself on pizza slices, or downing boxes of mini cupcakes you didn’t really need. It’s not the best feeling, but it’s also not worth harboring guilt over. Plus, feeling uber-full once in a while will remind you of why it’s not that fun—narcolepsy or nausea, anyone? Whatever slipping up means to you, don’t stress when you do it, and don’t try to starve yourself to make up for your indulgences.
Don’t make every meal a meal to remember. Choose one or two meals a day that you’ll really care about, labor over, and aim to perfect. For many of us, that describes dinner. For breakfast and lunch, try to find food routines that work for you. This avoids making every meal a big dramatic production, as though it’s your chance to win the culinary Oscars. It also frees up stomach space for you to enjoy everyday food: cereal, toast, simple sandwiches, thrown-together salads, etc. These, like everything you eat, should be of good quality and enjoyable, it’s just best to keep them straightforward and not too indulgent.
Get some exercise. We’ll admit it—we’re not exactly gym rats. Still, as bloggers and cooks, we do have to make an effort to put more steps on our pedometers than going back and forth from the computer to the kitchen will do. Walk lots, or find an aerobic activity to do a couple times a week.
Keep track of your sweets intake. Do you know how much savory junk food you can eat for the caloric intake of some of the best sweets? We don’t want to make you overthink your sweets cravings. Just know that when you mix sugar and fat and mix until creamy, you’re getting a pretty dense intake of calories. It took us a while to learn this, but sweets really should be a treat, eaten in small portions and with relative infrequency (once a day-ish).
Listen to your body. Last but not least, don’t discount your body’s natural cravings and reactions to the things you put into your stomach. Phoebe sometimes experiences amnesia when faced with a creamy dessert; she’ll eat it even though she knows it will give her a tummy ache. But most of the time, she remembers she knows better–and this keeps her emotionally and physically fitter, even if the dairy-free dessert she chooses instead is equally high in fat. Our bodies are always telling us what they can and cannot handle. During the winter, we fixate on rich stews and filling pasta dishes. But in the summertime, our stomachs do the unthinkable: they actually begin requesting salads and lighter fare. We try to tune into these needs and keep our bodies well nourished and satisfied, knowing that until bikini season a big old sweater will probably do.