Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

I am pretty sure that if one were to look at social media, you would assume humanity itself is the one with a life-threatening virus. Let’s define humanity a la Merriam Webster:

Compassionate, sympathetic, or generous behavior or disposition—the quality or state of being humane; the quality or state of being human; the totality of human beings—the human race. 

My perception of things is nothing new, and honestly, I do spend some of my precious time viewing comments from those who angrily express their opposing views. It’s a comedy, shit-show as far as I’m concerned. This is just my humble opinion, but I am confident I’m not alone. With more people stuck in their house with the stay-home order, people seem to have more time to peruse the internet. The effects of feeling cooped up are rearing their ugly head on even the most innocent of posts.

I expect such things from Facebook and Twitter as I have seen this behavior for years. What has surprised me most is the people on the Nextdoor social media site. 

“Nextdoor is the neighborhood hub for trusted connections and the exchange of helpful information, goods, and services. We believe that by bringing neighbors together, we can cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on. Building connections in the real world is a universal human need. That truth, and the reality that neighborhoods are one of the most important and useful communities in our lives, have been a guiding principle for Nextdoor since the beginning.”

I have been a “member” of Nextdoor since 2017. It is broken down into neighborhoods, and expands out even further. However, I can post something solely for immediate neighbors in my condo community, about 250 of the 370 who have created an account. One of the key elements has normally been to be respectful and avoid those topics that create friction: politics, religion, and sexual content.  We have been a light-hearted, helpful group with the occasional frustrations posted—but, they are more often than not extremely respectful.

With what our world is facing today, more people have become hostile, accusatory, dictatorial, and for lack of a better word, bullies. There is name-calling of a degree that even I am amazed by—remind you that I have seen the “best” on Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram. There is a boat-load of misinformation being posted, causing panic and anger. I’m even seeing comments that are clearly to incite even the most gentle of people. 

Whatever happened to scrolling on by? I’m just kidding, people can’t help themselves. I honestly don’t bother to comment when things get heated, now or before. In the end, what good would it do? I’m not going to change anyone’s mind, nor is there some prize at the end that makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something. Even the most innocent of comments will have people turn on you anyway. 

I just thought I wouldn’t see it on the Nextdoor site as we know these people—they are literally our next door neighbors! There’s no hiding behind a screen, keeping anonymity because you’re berating the person you used to smile and wave to as you left for work each morning. Bob across the street will avoid coming outside until you’ve driven off now because you called his wife an ignorant, bleeding-heart liberal and adding, “It makes your whole argument even dumber than you.”  Sorry, you’ll have to move now because all of your neighbors hate you…and oh, you’re an asshat.

The posts have gone from “Help me find my cat, Peepers” and “Can you recommend a good lawn company” to “There are terrorists in our neighborhood”—referring to a group of people playing soccer in a local park, ignoring the less-than-ten-in-a-group rule. Never you mind that even though the social-distance rule is being broken, they’re probably your neighbor’s kids. There are ways to protest the activity without being a jerk.

The scary part is that this really is just the beginning of the pandemic for the States and I’m thinking we’re going to see some intense Mad-Max insanity on our social media sites. It’s easy to get angry and lash out with our keyboard. It’s not easy to take those words back from cyber-space, or to look at old Mrs. Willoughby in the face who lives three houses down after you called her a communist.  If we all remember that we are in the same boat, then perhaps we’ll get through this unscathed. Keep your wits about you, neighbors. 

You Are How You Eat…Wait. What?

Far be it from me to tell anyone how to eat, much less what to eat. But, when you witness eating habits every day with those you live and work with, you might have questions. I mean this in the most humorous sense possible, but what’s with people (my fiancé) eating one item at a time on their plate? 

I’ll lay it out for you…

On a plate I place some chicken, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and corn.  He rotates his plate and eats each item—in it’s entirety—before moving on to the next. Hamburger and fries? He eats ALL of the fries first, then the hamburger. Fried eggs, hash browns, bacon, and toast? This is where he might mix it up and lay the fried egg over the hash browns—eat all of it—then eat the bacon, and finally the toast. Who eats toast by itself? You’re supposed to dip it in the egg-juice! Right?

It truly doesn’t bother me, but I wonder if a person isn’t missing out on some delicious combo-flavors when eating items separately. I’m not talking about a picky eater or about not allowing food on the plate to touch one another. If I make enchiladas with rice and refried beans—all are eaten one at a time. Me? I am taking bites of enchilada, quickly followed by the duo of rice and beans…and guacamole…and a chip or two. Am I a beast? Maybe. 

This is more of a curiosity for me, I guess. It’s just so hard to process and my stating they taste better together is met with, “Oh, okay,”—and then still eaten separate. Yes, it does allow for one to appreciate the taste and flavor of the individual items. But don’t you know the magic that happens when they are combined? 

Am I wrong?

I came across this article that breaks down the personalities based on how a person eats. Someone like me, for example, who is labeled a “mixer” by combining the food on their plate—is outgoing and friendly. It goes on to say this person’s overeagerness to multitask “can exhaust them and make them lose track of deadlines.” Yea, this is so me.

For the one food item at a time person, they are detail-oriented and like to think things through. “They see details everyone misses.” It also states “they should be patient with others who don’t follow the same strategy.” Well, that problem is solved as this describes my fiancé rather well. 


There are many other types, such as:


The slow-eater who enjoys every moment and in no hurry in life.

The fast-eater who is good at multitasking, but may miss out on some things in life.

The picky eater who stay in their comfort zone and doesn’t take risks.

The adventurer who takes risks and not afraid to fail.

The one who always wants a bite of your food can be a bit possessive and demanding.

Again, this isn’t something that bothers me so much as I wonder what’s going on in their head. Eating is something we all do and without giving thought to how. I never considered it an extension of our personality. In our house, we also have a slow eater, fast eater, and picky eater—all of which fits who they are, even if there is a bit of crossovers here and there.

What about you? Where do you fall in the eating category? 

It’s Not The Alcohol Talking

When I tell a story, it may seem like I’m supplying superfluous information—and, I have been known to go off on a tangent. But, when something triggers a tale, there has to be context for the listener/reader to understand where I’m coming from. So, buckle up…

There is a popular grocery store chain in my area and it recently went out of business. This is leaving the local residents feeling disheartened. One of the features of this store is that you can buy a glass of beer or wine to drink on while you shop. Some of the posts written by locals on social media lament they can’t shop and drink now—what are they to do? These comments bother me and I’ll explain why.

I used to have at least one drink every, single night. It was part of a daily routine in my previous marriage. My ex drank quite a bit each night, sometimes way too much. Once I was separated and on my own with three kids, drinking was limited as I had to keep my wits about me. Over the years drinking alcohol has become infrequent with a month or more going by without any beer, wine, or my favorite spirit, vodka.

Not having alcohol hasn’t become a conscious decision as I really don’t think about it overall. There are times I do want an ice-cold beer or even a mixed drink—and I have one. During the summer, having a beer or two sitting poolside isn’t uncommon—I enjoy it. Have I gotten drunk before? Absolutely, but it’s been a very long time. 

I’m not oblivious to the notion alcoholism is a disease as my paternal grandparents died because of it. And I know the comments on social media don’t imply they are all alcoholics. Honestly, this has nothing to do with them overall. What it has triggered in me is sadness about my youngest sister, who—at the age of 38—died of alcoholism.  Her death was a hard blow to my heart and psyche. Her constant state of drunkenness was more prevalent toward the end of her life, however with her being four states away, I wasn’t aware that her most of her days began and ended with alcohol. 

I do understand why my sister drank—she was in pain emotionally—predominantly due to her estranged husband who for lack of a better word, tormented her the last four years of her life.  Only one who has been with someone with narcissistic personality disorder would understand this level of harassment. Then, unfortunately, her choice of men she subsequently dated emotionally and physically abused her. The autopsy revealed several bruises on her body, but stated she died as a result of her alcoholism. 

Drinking was her way of dealing with the obstacles of her choices and what life was throwing at her. 

My talks with my youngest sister were seemingly productive in helping her work through her problems, but only temporarily. Behind the scenes, her drinking had steadily increased. Both my other sister and I tried to get her to come stay with us for a while, but she wanted to be near her children as she got to have supervised visits with them on the weekends. Those around her were not emotionally equipped to help her despite seeing her demise first hand. 

Not a single day since last May has she not entered my thoughts. I no longer find memes posted on social media about getting drunk or needing a drink humorous.  I am not judging these people so much as my views have changed on drinking—stained by my personal tragedy. Any time I do have an alcohol, it’s not without a small sense of guilt. I know that her death isn’t my fault and I should still be able to enjoy a beer while sunning by the pool; or a cocktail when meeting up with friends—it’s just different now. 

It sounds odd to say I have a new found respect for drinking alcohol, but in reality that’s what it is. Additionally, we shouldn’t just recognize when someone needs help, but do the hard task of intervening. I immensely regret not getting on a plane and getting her the professional help she needed. Remember alcohol and substance abuse happens to the best of families and friends. Don’t let regrets be the driving force in changing your life. 

Substance Abuse National Helpline: 800-662-HELP

Mastering Those Tiny Behaviors

There are times that I feel the only consistency is the inconsistency of life. Not very profound, I know and I’m aware that my frame of mind is in need of work. I have many things to be grateful for and they don’t go unnoticed. But…

Getting out of the habit of negative thinking is necessary to propel ourselves forward and it’s not always easy to do. I started reading Atomic Habits by James Clear a few days ago. My fiancé Michael gave it to me when I shared that I clearly don’t know what my purpose is these days. I don’t know what direction I want to go. I don’t feel accomplished. Blah, blah, blah…

There are so many self-help books on the market and finding one that works ironically requires the reading of a self-help book. I’m two chapters into Atomic Habits and I’m already liking the writer’s concept of making the effort to get 1% better every day—“tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.” Doing just 1% every day doesn’t feel overwhelming. It’s creating a system, not a goal. When we have a goal and we accomplish it, then what? That’s right, we’re done. However if we create a system, we are consistently getting better—even if results feel slow.  

The same can be said for being 1% worse every day, however that consistency is a habit that maintains itself. What I’ve learned (but, deep down probably already knew) is that the change has to be made within our identity. This is our self-image, judgements, and biases—what we believe.  We need to build identity-based habits on “who we wish to become.” 

He used the example of two people who want to stop smoking and they are offered a cigarette. One says, “No thanks, I’m trying to quit.” The other says, “No thanks, I don’t smoke.” 

See what he did there?

The goal is not to learn an instrument, the goal is to be become a musician.

The goal is not to run a marathon, the goal is to be a runner.

He states it’s a two-step process to change your identity:

1) Decide the type of person you want to be. 2) Prove it to yourself with small wins.

We all do the same thing convincing ourselves who we are and the book lays it all out:

“I’m terrible with directions.”

“I’m not a morning person.”

“I’m always late.”

“I’m not good with technology.”

By repeating these negative things, it becomes who we are. Our inclination to change is non-existent if we believe we are incapable. Just remember it take just 1% improvement each time—baby steps, people.  We know that feeling, the warm-fuzzy sensation when we have a win. I’m thinking I’d like that feeling every single day, even for the little things. I am a winner (oh, yea).

So, I’m working on my identity and bringing you all along with me. Hopefully, you’ll join me as sometimes it does take a village to bring on change. We will all focus on not necessarily what we want to change, but who we want to become. Think about it this way, every 1% we give toward changing into who we want to be will accumulate. This will direct us toward changing our beliefs in who we are. 

I’m not simply writing this blog, people—I am a blogger. 

Taking Neighborhood Watch To New Levels

Every neighborhood has a Mrs. Kravitz. If you don’t know who that is, you should ask somebody—or just Google it. What will come up is a character from Bewitched, specifically the original series from the 60s to 70s. She’s your nosy neighbor who is constantly watching everyone and knows more than she should about people on your block. If you don’t know who it is, it may be you. I can accept a Mrs. Kravitz, but I don’t have a name for what we’ve encountered recently. 

What do you call someone who goes through the recycle bins to see if you’re recycling properly? Insane? We live in a condo community and each street has its own set of recycling trash bins. We try to be “green” and maintain a separate bag for this purpose. I understand the ins-and-outs of the process and know what I should throw in—mostly. I found out recently that coffee k-cups are not recyclable despite the indication on the bottom of the each cup. What made me look this up was the manipulative way our neighbor approached us.

The usual salutations were given and the topic of recycling was brought up randomly. “People just don’t know what can and can’t be thrown in the recycling bin…” 

She went on to say how jars and cans need to be rinsed out. That pizza boxes can’t be in the bin if any cheese is left on the box. The Kuerig coffee cups aren’t recyclable. All of these things were recently included in the paper bag we used to collect items and toss in the container—along with junk mail, magazines, etc. This neighbor described our trash and it was disconcerting. 

I knew all of these things (aside from the k-cups), but my teenagers apparently did not. What concerns me is that a neighbor went through the bin to seek out violators to approach. It sounds odd, but we feel, in a small way, violated. I can appreciate the concern, truly, but it felt like she went through my panty drawer. It makes me wonder if she goes through anything else we throw away.

Since the encounter, we’ve purchased a security stamp that blacks out our address on envelopes and packages—we even use it for junk mail. We already use our shredder for anything personal, but who knows…maybe she’s piecing that together in her house! 

I suppose I can look at this in a productive and positive way that will help me save the earth more efficiently.

But, it’s weird. Right? 

Too Many Books in the Kitchen

As a book lover, I believe you can never have too many books—hoarder or not. In the genre of cooking, I’m wondering if my collection has become somewhat excessive (or is it obsessive?). In the quest for healthy eating, I spend an enormous amount of time flipping through cookbooks looking for new recipes. The problem is everything looks so delicious! I have been successful in creating a menu for a week’s worth of meals twice in the past few months. Those other weeks, the menu looks like an editor took to my work and hated everything. I’m constantly changing my mind because there’s something that pops up that looks better than what I’ve planned. 

The cookbook I have turned to most is Milk Street’s Tuesday Nights and it’s fantastic. I’m not sure how many recipes are in there, but I think I’ve covered at least a third of them so far this past month. When we brought it home, we sat down and turned each page, marking the ones we wanted to try—green tabs for him and orange for me. Yes, we are nerds—chef nerds. What I love is that there is no set category, i.e. American, French, Italian, etc. I made a Palestinian Crispy Herb Omelet for breakfast and Chicken in Chipotle Sauce for dinner (they actually used pork chops in the book, but I’m shifty like that). 

Now, this doesn’t include the ten other cookbooks on my counter (eight in the cabinet), magazines in the drawer, and internet websites I use. I love to cook, so all of this is stimulating for me. The only anxiety I feel is waiting for Michael to take that first bite. If I don’t hear any words come out of his mouth and he continues eating, I’ve done well. If he says, “Interesting,” then it can go either way. If he literally licks the plate, then the recipe gets a gold star. He’s a trooper and will eat absolutely anything I put in front of him. The only exception is when chicken breast is in any way soft—it has to be thin and firm. I’ve learned this, so I don’t make that mistake anymore. It makes me feel like I’ve failed all humanity when food gets put in the trash. He never makes me feel bad as he knows it’s his personal preference—but, a little bit of my soul dies like any other chef who disappoints. 

The essential element to any purchased cookbook is that the ingredients are attainable. I’m a frugal shopper as it is and already go to three different grocery stores each week—yes, three. One is a local farmer’s market with a large variety of fruits and vegetables on one side; and meats, poultry, and seafood on the other. The second is a regular grocery store for all the ancillary items like seasonings, oils, dairy, paper products, etc. The third is a specialty store similar to Whole Foods, called Lucky’s Market. If I want garam marsala, tamarind paste, or some unique organic item—they have it. I also love that I can get red or green lentils, sesame seeds, coconut flour—or whatever they have in a snazzy dispenser—by the ounce or pound. 

If the book’s recipes call for some weird ingredient like hunza apricots, kiwano (it’s a thing), or tears of a mountain goat—it doesn’t come home. And, I don’t order food from the internet. Call it old fashioned, but that’s unnatural to me. I welcome any persuasive arguments you have to convince me otherwise.

The bonus to all of this is having made some sensational and delicious discoveries for my food palate. Most of my meals before we started eating healthier consisted of Mexican food or something breaded and fried. Mexican food hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s just made healthier now (if only in my mind). But, I’ve discovered I like turmeric, curry, and even tofu—among many other flavors and textures. I continue to dislike thyme in any form or fashion. If the recipe calls for any amount of it, I’m only putting 1/8 of a teaspoon…maybe. 

I do think having a variety is key to keeping your diet fun and interesting. Our daughter refers to all of our meals as being rabbit food, but healthy isn’t just about salads and fruits. It’s making dishes with fresh ingredients and being smart about how they’re prepared. Michael had a southern craving for fried green tomatoes and being the good guru of a chef that I am, I made baked green tomatoes. Not only were they delicious, but had a better crunch than the fried variety. Mix up a little avocado oil mayo, yogurt, ranch dressing seasoning, and chipotle peppers with adobo sauce—you have yourself a dip.

So, don’t see eating healthy as limiting. There are always ways to get around to your favorite dishes. You just have to find a few good recipes—or be like me with 19 cookbooks, six magazines, and the never-ending world wide web. 

Having My Cake and Eating It (But Only the Serving Size)

The goal has been achieved! After months of hard work by way of not stuffing my face every chance I got, I have reached my target weight. I’m down twenty-five pounds!  I know it may sound silly, but I worked hard for this by choosing wisely not only what to eat, but how much. I thumbed my way through a collection of cookbooks, magazines, and websites, making most of my meals at home. I also measured out everything—yes, everything. I can honestly say I’ve never been more dedicated to any cause. I’ve transformed my eating habits, lowered my weight, and improved how I feel about myself. 

October 2019 – 135 lbs
March 2019 – 160 lbs

This isn’t for everyone, I know. Most will say it’s too much work, or that they don’t like the restrictions. Well, it is a lot of work—at first, but then it becomes a daily habit. The same kind of habit we create when we have a bagel laden with strawberry cream cheese every morning with our Almond Joy Creamer and coffee. I’m not saying don’t have these things, but are you measuring out the cream cheese and creamer to the recommended serving size? This is the key to all of this weight loss—moderation.

Like I mentioned in my previous post, don’t say you’ve tried everything if you haven’t controlled your food intake. Yes, measuring out all the ingredients in a recipe and how much you serve yourself is a huge pain, but only at first. If it helps, I played a little mental trick to see if I could guess the weight of the food before weighing it. We all like to be right, don’t we? Absurd? Maybe, but I lost the weight I wanted.

When it comes to “restricting” myself, I did choose to remove most added sugars from my diet. Which wasn’t an issue as I really didn’t drink a lot of sodas, nor did I eat a lot of sweets overall. I had that slice of chocolate cake drizzled with caramel at a birthday celebration last month—I just had a smaller piece than I normally would have (and I did lick the plate). I did have delicious burgers with a soft, sweet Hawaiian buns, but I planned for it. In fact, I enjoyed everything I ate over the past three months. I controlled what and how much I consumed without the limitations of Keto, Paleo, or any of the other diet plans. And, I’m not vegan, vegetarian, or any other specific classification out there. I was smart with my choices.

I have been this weight before (years ago), but it isn’t the same. And, I don’t think I appreciated it as much. However, it’s more than the weight, it’s knowing that I’m healthier than I’ve ever been. When your daily intake of food consists of only fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains that I put together myself, how could it not be? I know what’s going in my food and I can pronounce every ingredient. We have eaten meals out as well, but put more thought into our choices. When the scale reflected those dinners out the next day, we didn’t sweat it because we knew we were on the right track overall.

The best part is that Michael and I are doing this together—which does make everything so much easier. It helps when you have a moment of weakness, don’t feel like measuring out all the ingredients, or even cooking for that matter! In the end, I am accountable to myself, but it helps he looks to me for motivation. He reached his goal too and gives me most of the credit as I make all our meals. He does help in the kitchen sometimes as he loves to use our fancy, new knife to chop, dice, and julienne. Michael also measures out our snacks and puts them into little baggies—nuts, wasabi peas, veggie puff-thingies, and whatever else that isn’t laden with sugar. 

yogajournal.com

I’d like to say my yoga exercise was a factor, but it really wasn’t. A few of weeks went by with no yoga after I strained an already hurt arm being ambitious with a pose. It was that backbend I did with ease when I was a wee younger—a million times—and was successful until the arm gave way. I’ve just gotten back into the grove, but still can’t do a lot of the poses as intended.

We do fit daily walks into our schedule, especially after dinner. Exercise and/or movement does need to happen in some form or fashion. It’s a great time for us to talk to each other without any distractions. I’m pretty sure we have a vacation planned out now.

All this to say, I did it. I promise you that I was the laziest of people when it came to healthy eating—not bad, but not smart. My weakness is Mexican food and I have found ways to keep enjoying it. In the end, it’s all a matter of what you’re willing to do. When you start seeing results, you’ll wonder why it took you so long. 

What Are You Putting In Your Mouth?

You know how we find something that interests us and become obsessed? We live and breathe it, no doubt annoying everyone with the constant monologuing and social media posts. We have become those people when it comes to what foods go into our daily diet. My Instagram feed is full of photos of our meals, and conveniently, Facebook duplicates them for that feed. Then there’s the commenting on every post that involves food, detailing why they aren’t good for you—making you ponder on whether or not to unfriend us. It’s a risk we take given our fascination with just how many people have it wrong about what’s healthy and how to knock off those extra pounds.

​”I’ve tried everything! I can’t lose the weight!”
Honesty, have you really?

“Dieting is too hard. I don’t want to be restricted.”
What about self-restraint on portion sizes?

“I don’t have the time to prepare healthy meals.”
Conservatively, you’re awake 16 hours in a day, are you sure?

“Healthy foods are too expensive.”
Are your medical fees and supplements cheaper?

There are so many more “reasons” people use for not eating better and I have a response to all of them.  If you avoid pretty much everything in the middle of the grocery store, you’d really be better off. All you have to do is control your ingredients…or, at least make better choices on those prepared foods. ​

We rejoice in the fact we feel better and that we’ve lost most of the inches grown over the past few years from all those bad food decisions. All it took was dishing out only the recommended serving sizes when we eat and cutting out as many added sugars as possible. There is a tendency to fill plates with even the healthiest of foods rather than thinking about quality over quantity.

Eating salads and snacking on granola bars isn’t exactly healthy if the salad is laden with dressing and the granola bar has added sugars. Here are two examples of salad dressing and a granola bar. Aside from the sugar added, there is a slew of ingredients most can’t pronounce. 

Ranch Dressing: Vegetable Oil, Water, Egg Yolks, Sugar, Salt, Cultured Nonfat Buttermilk, Natural Flavors, Spices, Dried Garlic, Dried Onion, Vinegar, Phosphoric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Modified Food Starch, Monosodium Glutamate, Artificial Flavors, Disodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid and Calcium Disodium EDTA as Preservatives, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate. Gluten free.

If you only use one serving size of two tablespoons, then it’s one-half teaspoon of sugar poured on your salad. 

Oats ’n Honey Granola Bar: Whole Grain Oats, Sugar, Canola Oil, Rice Flour, Honey, Salt, Brown Sugar Syrup, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor.

If you only eat one serving size of two bars in a package, then it’s almost four teaspoons of sugar.​

​Let’s say you love ranch dressing and want to make it yourself. I’m pretty sure you can pronounce all of these: mayonnaise, sour cream, dried chives, dried parsley, dried dill weed, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper. Try this recipe for ranch dressing.

Need a snack, here’s what’s in the oats ’n honey granola bar you love so much: dates, honey, natural peanut or almond butter, almonds, rolled oats, and dried fruit. It may take a minute, but try using this recipe

Although honey is considered a sugar, it’s a natural one that offers nutrients and antioxidants. Pure Maple Syrup also falls into that category. Peanut butter containing ONLY peanuts is a good thing. Simply Jiff Peanut Butter has roasted peanuts, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, mono and diglycerides, molassessugar, salt. Again, this is about trying to limit the intake of added sugars that your body doesn’t really know what to do with—and then eventually turns it into fat. 

I have no doubt all this is annoying to think about, but you should. And, this isn’t a “look at me and how great I’m doing” thing. It’s about wanting to share what we know to those we care about. The most common food-related things people post about are:

Sugar-laden Treats – photos of rich cakes, donuts, or various other sweets. Usually oversized.

Food photos – plates filled with delicious meals or monstrous-sized burgers, pizza, etc.

Diets/weight loss – Keto, Mediterranean, Paleo, etc.

Types of Diets
Abs
Acid Alkaline
Anti-Inflammatory
Atkins
Biggest Loser
Body Reset
DASH Diet
Dukan
Eco-Atkins
Engine 2
Fast
Fertility
Flat Belly
Flexitarian
Glycemic-Index
HMR
Jenny Craig
Macrobiotic
Mayo Clinic
Medifast
Mediterranean
MIND Diet
Nutrisystem
Ornish
Paleo
Raw food
Slim Fast
South Beach
SparkPeople
Supercharged Hormone
TLC Diet
Traditional Asian
Vegan
Vegetarian
Volumetrica
Weight Watchers
Whole
Zone

Let’s tackle the diet scene. I can’t even begin to count how emails I get about diets with the notion that this is the ONE for me. I’ve never been a “diet” fan and despise the notion of restrictions–creating menus without diversity. I started looking at some of these diets and learned some basics about each of them. For example:

The Keto Diet: This is the trending diet plan that has essentially replaced formerly popular Atkins. It’s a low carb, high fat claiming to offer many health benefits in addition to losing weight. You drastically reduce your carbs, replacing things such as:

Root vegetables – potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.

Fruits – all except small amounts of berries.

Beans/Legumes – peas, lentils, chickpeas 

Types of things you can eat:

Meat – steak, ham, sausage, etc.

Cheese – unprocessed cheddar, mozzarella, goat, etc.

Low-carb Veggies – most greens, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.

Do you know how many vitamins and nutrients are in fruits? They are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. There’s a bonus, too…no cholesterol. They may have sugar, but it’s the good kind as it also has fiber—which helps blood cholesterol levels. There is no substitute for what they do for you—so, save your money on vitamins and special juices and embrace this type of carbs. 

The same applies to root vegetables. Sweet potatoes are laden with fiber, vitamin C and A, not to mention antioxidants. And, oh-my-god, don’t sprinkle brown sugar on your sweet potato—because…well…it’s a SWEET potato. By the way, garlic is a root vegetable—think on that one a while. Here’s a guide to help figure it all out.

When it comes to beans and legumes, I’m a selective fan. Nevertheless, I am a fan. So whether I’m eating pinto or black beans, I’m getting my amino acids, protein, antioxidants, iron, fiber, etc. Beans and legumes are good eats and better made fresh at home, but we all do what we “can.” 

Shall I go on? I can tell you’d like me to, so here a couple other diets I explored:

The Paleo Diet – This one advocates eating the same foods that your hunter-gatherer ancestors allegedly ate. The paleo diet consists of eating whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, and seeds. It restricts the consumption of processed foods, grains, sugar, and dairy, though some less restrictive versions allow for some dairy products like cheese. I will say a lot of our meals follow the paleo guidelines and I’m delighted with the recipes. Here’s a website I frequently use that has a ton of fabulous meals you can make. 

The Mediterranean Diet – This one advocates eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, tubers, whole grains, fish, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil.. Foods such as poultry, eggs, and dairy products are to be eaten in moderation—red meats are limited. It does restrict refined grains (white rice or flour), trans fats (frozen pizza/fast food), refined oils (vegetable/canola oil), processed meats, added sugar, and other highly processed foods. Again, a lot of great recipes to add to your menu without having to restrict your entire diet. 

There are literally hundreds of diets to choose from. I find the best way to choose one is to piece it together based on your needs. Don’t completely restrict yourself, but have self-control. There is no right or wrong, just moderation on your portion sizes and sugar intake. I’m not saying it’s easy. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things we’ve had to do.

We recently watched a documentary-style movie called FED UP.  It’s essentially how we (everyone) have been so wrong about food—in a humorous and informative fashion. The movie claims it will change how we eat and it was a real eye-opener for us. I highly recommend watching it and guarantee you’ll invariably start paying attention to nutrition labels on the foods you buy. The amount of added sugars in almost everything we buy at the grocery store—sans the produce and fresh meats—is overwhelming. The labels of low or fat free, healthy, low-carb, among others, is misleading the public on how much sugar is actually added.

Did you know there are about 56 different names for sugar? ​​​Food companies are finding new ways to add sugar by simply renaming them—sometimes making it seem like a healthy additive. It’s not, so pay attention.

I know our daughter is hating the changes we’ve made as we not only point out all the sugar and unhealthy ingredients in the foods she likes, but we don’t buy most of them anymore. We do get her a few of her favorites things, like Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup to make chocolate milk. However, she has to measure out only a serving size, which is one tablespoon. Her macaroni and cheese is now Annie’s, which has better ingredients than Kraft’s version. We understand she wants the quick and easy meals, not ingredients to make them. However, she also wants a better complexion and more energy to get through her day. The key is involving her in the menu and letting her go through the cookbooks to pick out what she wants to eat. Her school choices are awful and she sent us photos of the healthy foods to show why she won’t bother choosing them. It’s really no wonder kids select pizza, French fries, and hamburgers. And, it’s also no wonder that kids are developing Type II Diabetes and becoming obese. I’ll no doubt have to blog about that, too. In the mean time, I want to make sure she has good choices at home.

I will conclude by saying sorry, not sorry, should you still be reading this post. If just one person gets something from it and attempts to better their diet just a little, I’ve succeeded.  Meanwhile, I will relish in the fact I have lost twenty pounds since we started eating actual portion sizes and limiting added sugars. I will embrace having more energy and the feeling better throughout my day. I will be continue to be assertive with our daughter, not giving up on changing her view of healthier foods. I will persevere in my search for new ways to appreciate asparagus.

​ I will not, however—under any circumstances—find value grapefruit or papaya. They are the fruits of the devil.