Shopping from the Hip, Part 2: Menus, Lists & Grocery Shopping

In Shopping from the Hip, Part 1, I mentioned two things: 1) it’s human nature to buy on impulse if we’re not ready and organized before we enter a grocery store and 2) the best tool to have in the supermarket is a shopping list. What I didn’t mention is how I learned the art of creating a list.

Years ago, while grocery shopping with a college friend, I noticed a neatly written grocery list in her hands.  This “list thing” was new to me. Unlike my method of wandering around the store, she went directly to what she wanted and navigated the store with ease. This valuable lesson in purposeful food shopping later led to my becoming a dietitian.

So, where do you start when making a list? 

  1. First, create a dinner menu.  I make a 5-day menu, leaving two nights open: one for leftovers and another for eating out. Count the days you eat dinner at home and plan accordingly.  Since our family seems to have a typical breakfast/lunch routine of eggs, toast or cereal and sandwiches, I put those items on my list as I need them. Keep a side list of items you run out of during the week to transfer onto your main list.                                                                                                           
  2. Next, make a Shopping List with headings. Using your dinner menu, transfer items under their appropriate heading: Meat, Fruit/Vegetables, Dairy, Canned/Frozen, Bread/Cereal, Paper/Cleaners and Misc.  Since grocery stores follow this layout plan to divide their products, this becomes your map that leads you efficiently through the store. (See photo above.)
  3. Now enter the grocery store with purpose. Instead of aimlessly wandering around,  I think you’ll find that an organized list relieves stress, plus offers a level of comfort and sense of achievement to your weekly shopping excursions.

Save time, maximize food dollars and have ready supplies for healthy meals at home by shopping with a list. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

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Salsa, Anyone?

Since it was requested, here’s the salsa recipe I made at MetalMark for Cinco de Mayo.  It’s super easy. One batch makes about 3 cups and serves 8-10 people.

Dorie’s Salsa

  • 2 jalapenos roasted and sliced (roasting optional)
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1-8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 lb. vine ripe tomatoes* finely diced or  1-14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. garlic powder
  • ⅛ tsp. black pepper
  • sea salt to taste

Put jalapenos, green onions, cilantro and tomato sauce in a food processor and chop for 10-15 seconds until fine. Pour this mixture into a bowl and stir in fresh, diced tomatoes, lime juice, garlic powder, black pepper and sea salt to taste.

The salsa is best eaten the day it’s made. Refrigeration nullifies the flavor of tomatoes.  However, the salsa will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days. Let me know how it goes.  Enjoy!

*Vine ripe tomatoes bring out the best flavor in a salsa. If they’re not available, use a 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes. If you use canned tomatoes, chop them in the food processor so they’re not too chunky.  Only chop for 3 seconds.

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“Shopping from the Hip” in the Supermarket, Part 1

Watch most people in the grocery store and you’ll see very few using grocery lists.  Instead, most are “shopping from the hip” or impulse buying.  My family grew up shopping that way.  On Friday, we’d go up and down every aisle in our local grocery store and come out with everything we wanted and more.  Lots more.

How did you end up with the food you currently have in the house?  Is it in sync with your health goals?  Have you been wanting to lose weight, but keep a supply of chips and crackers that sabotage your willpower in the evening?  Whatever the case, it’s human nature to buy on impulse if we’re not ready and organized BEFORE WE ENTER a grocery store.  And the best tool for arming yourself for your next trip to the supermarket is a shopping list.

Is it really worth it though?  Consider what creating a shopping list can do for you in terms of time, money and nutritional value.

  1. Save Time.  If your base your shopping list on a menu plan for the coming week, you’ll save time in two ways: 1) at home, because you’ve decided on your meals in advance, 2) in the store, because you can go directly to the items you want and even skip parts of the store!
  2. Save Money.  Being a list shopper makes you a purposeful buyer.  Lists save you money by keeping you on task.  You’re better off sticking to your list than ending up with extra items purchased on a whim.  Shopping whims ruin a food budget while a list helps you maximize your food dollars.
  3. Increase Nutritional Value with a side benefit of weight loss.  A shopping list organized into food group headings, keeps fruits and vegetables on your radar.  Avocados, lettuce and tomatoes will likely be on your list for an evening meal of chicken tacos, rice and guacamole.  Oranges, bananas, apples or other fruits will be there too for lunches or quick snack foods throughout the week. Eating more plant foods, ups your fiber and nutrient intake and can help with weight loss.

With a little bit of time and thought, anyone can go from “shopping from the hip” to shopping from a list.  My goal is to see you enjoy the huge benefits that come from purposeful grocery shopping–more time, maximized food dollars and better nutrition.

In Part 2–Menus, food lists and grocery shopping, we’ll discuss strategies that get you there.

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Why breakfast? 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Skip this Morning Meal

Take a poll on whether it’s important to eat breakfast or not and you’ll get a convincing 95% answering YES!  However, when it comes down to it, less than 50% of adults actually start their day with a meal of any kind.  Whether it’s the morning rush or just not feeling up to it, there are more breakfast skippers than breakfast eaters.  Here are 3 reasons why you don’t want to skip breakfast:

  1. Irritability & Fatigue.  Research shows that children who’ve eaten breakfast behave better at school.  We all, in fact, do better when we’re not subjected to low blood sugar levels which can cause irritability, tiredness or fogging thinking.
  2. Store Fat & Gain Weight.  According to the Mayo Clinic, the extended fasting that occurs when we skip breakfast increases our body’s insulin output which in turn increases fat storage and weight gain.  Breakfast gives our bodies the refueling we need after a good night’s sleep and prevents the insulin spike that comes from not eating for 8 or more hours.
  3. Regain the Weight You Lost.   The National Weight Control Registry highlights eating breakfast as one of its key stratigies for keeping weight off long-term.  Almost 80% of the registry’s members who have kept off 30 pounds or more for over a year report eating breakfast every day!  Why fall into uncontrollable hunger mid-morning, when a morning meal can dampen your brain’s desire for high calorie foods and increase your sense of self-control.

If starting your day off with breakfast meant clearer thinking or greater chances of keeping off the weight you lost, wouldn’t it be worth putting in the effort to make it happen?  Try these 3 steps.

  1. Decide the night before what you’re going to have for breakfast: hot cereal, omelette, bagel with peanut butter, even leftovers work.
  2. Set out what you need in to get breakfast going.  Take out the toaster, set up the coffee pot, mix up your dry cereal with nuts, seeds and dry fruit in a bowl so all you have to do is add milk, have hard-boiled eggs ready to go.  The effort will be worth it when the alarm rings at 6am!
  3. Include protein and whole grains in your morning meal.  Protein is best for curbing the appetite and a complex carbohydrate will give your brain the glucose lift it needs to function fully.

What’s on your menu for tomorrow morning?

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4 Benefits from Weight Loss

The best part of helping others lose weight is seeing benefits occur in their lives that I didn’t expect.  In the movie, “Food Matters” Charlotte Gerson states that you can’t heal one part of the body without healing the entire body.  I guess then, the benefits my clients report are actual signs of healing.  Here are 4 benefits I’ve seen that I’d like to share with you:

  1. Clearer speech.  He came in with labored breathing and sweating profusely.  He needed to get the weight off “now” (former marine of course).  True to his word, weight and inches came off, but the most noticeable difference was the gurgle that he formerly had in his voice was gone.
  2. No more acid reflux.  She didn’t mention she was on antacids for over 2 years, but after a month of changing her eating pattern my client told me by the first week she wasn’t having any reflux and was no longer dependent on antacids.
  3. Better Circulation.  Right from the start, the numbness in her feet bothered her and she knew it was from the excessive weight she had put on.  Committed to being a healthy role model to her daughters, she pursued her weight loss with Olympic-like dedication.  By the third week, she giggled and reported that she could feel the blood going to her toes and that the numbness was gone.
  4. Reversed Diabetes.  “Once a diabetic, always a diabetic” is what he told me when I said it was reversible.  Though skeptical, my client honored the fact that his loving wife knew he needed to get better and asked him to give weight loss a try.  Into the second month, my client had lost 10% of his body weight.  Excellent blood work proved that he was better than ever.  “Whatever you’re doing,” his doctor said, “don’t stop!”  (He hasn’t.)

What are some surprising benefits awaiting you if you shed 10-20 pounds?

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3 Ways to Get Slim & Stay Slim

Do you also know that less than 3% of all diets work?  Dieting in America is a failure.  Millions lose weight, but it doesn’t stay off.  The main reason for this is:

  • Weight loss methods used in diets never get ingrained into a person’s lifestyle.  Once those methods stop and old habits return, the pounds come right back and often go above the dieter’s original weight.

Another common method used by those who want to lose weight is to simply skip meals until the scale shows a downward trend.  This also has no effect in the long run due to a similar reason as that above:

  • While skipping meals helps lose weight in the short run, it has no effect in the long run because healthy lifestyle habits are never learned.  The weight eventually returns and another cycle of skipping meals needs to happen.
So what lifestyle behaviors do we need to take on in order to get slim and stay there?  
Rather than looking at another diet plan, why not look at groups of people who seem to just overflow with health and glean some insights as to what they actually practice when it comes to eating that keeps them at a normal body weight over the years?  (By a normal body weight I mean a weight that the knees will generally be able to support for years without wearing out and that looks appropriate for the person’s height and skeletal frame.)   Here are 3 of this group’s behaviors worth modeling:
  1. Begin by eating 3 meals a day minimum.  I know eating to lose weight doesn’t seem to compute, but the majority of those who maintain a healthy body weight start out with breakfast and eat 2-4 more times throughout the day.  As a result, they don’t seem to struggle with low blood sugar levels, seasonal weight gain and binging.  Start with learning how to satisfying your body’s natural need for nourishment.
  2. Choose foods closest to their most natural form.  Proteins, vegetables, fruits and whole grains should make up 80% of your household food supply.  Boxed and processed foods should take a backseat in your food supply.  The less processed a food is, the more nutrients and fiber you get and the greater “shut-off” power it has on your appetite.  A great rule of thumb is to serve 2 pieces of sliced fruit at every dinner to cap an appetite and boost vitamin intake.   
  3. Go for quality over quantity, even with desserts or snack foods.  Get around this overflowing-with-health group and you’ll hear words like organic, raw and whole.  Even if it’s chocolate, it’s dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa.  Desserts may not be frequent, but if they’re eaten, they’re the real thing such as homemade not packaged.  As you choose quality over quantity, your palette will be trained to know the difference and you’ll be able to easily decline processed, manufactured foods that simply miss the mark in taste.  
I know you want to be slim, but I want much more for you.  I’d like you to overflow with health that’s sustainable as well as enjoy a body weight that is meant just for you.  The behaviors above really can help you in the long run. What are you waiting for?



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Voicing Struggles & Getting Healthy

If you were gut honest, what improvement would you like to see in your health?

At our rock climbing gym’s recent health challenge, the honesty people displayed going through my “dietitian check point” amazed me.  Not only was everyone willing to have 6 places on their bodies measured, they were willing to share their current health struggles. Participants were seeking answers.

I was invigorated.  The evening flew by!

Voicing a struggle with clarity might be the strongest first step a person takes toward fuller living.

Four struggles that came up that evening were:

  1. I’ve been diagnosed as being obese.
  2. My craving for sweets is uncontrollable.
  3. I’ve kept 30 pounds off for 3 years, but I still need to lose 30 more.
  4. I tend to skip meals. I compete in long-distance bike racing, read lots of articles with food lists, but still don’t know what to eat.
Clearly identifying a need or struggle, allows for opportunities to naturally open up.  I remember when we finally decided we needed a car that could hold backpacks and climbing gear.  The right model started to appear in car lots all around town.
Below appear some tips for those who may share the same health struggles listed above.
  1. To those who are in the personal struggle against obesity–You need to eat regularly and not skip meals.  Regular intake keeps your blood sugar even and helps speed up fat loss. Be aware of stress. Stress hormones have strong fat storing effects. Lower these hormones by exercising 3-4 times a week for 20 to 30 minutes using light weights or take daily half-hour walks. De-stress mentally using deep-breathing techniques twice a day. You can even try my favorite way to de-stress: nightly star-gaze to focus on greater things and release the daily grind.
  2. Do you have uncontrollable cravings? Irregular eating habits may play a big part in cravings because you run into low blood sugar levels throughout the day.  Even out your blood sugar by starting off with a good breakfast.  Eating every 2-4 hours is advisable, just make sure your choices resemble small meals.  If you crave something sweet like a cookie, eat it with lunch or dinner.  The fiber, fat and protein in the meal will keep your blood sugar from rising as high as it would eating the cookie all by itself.  It’s a great strategy for avoiding roller-coaster highs and lows.
  3. To you have lost weight, have kept it off, but still need to lose more–Congratulations! You’ve obviously reached a new set-point!  This means your lower weight is your new normal.  To lose more weight, make sure you’re eating enough seasonal fruits, vegetables and protein.  A regular pattern of breakfast, lunch and dinner with mid-morning or mid-day snacks will be your best weapon against binges.  As for exercise, maybe you’ve plateaued and need more challenge.  Add weight or reps to your workout routine or increase the speed of your walk or run while keeping the same amount of time.
  4. To endurance athletes who skip meals–First, don’t skip meals.  My personal trainer/gym owner friend warned me of catabolizing, basically wasting precious muscle for fuel. You can’t afford to do that if you’re a serious competitor.  Second, commit to feeding yourself.
  5. To you who read about foods to eat in preparation for training and competition, but still don’t know what to eat–What do you like to eat?  What foods make you feel good?  It’s the “you” that makes the list work!  Amaranth over steel-cut oats?  Why not?  It’s in the whole grain family.  Bulk it up with nuts, seeds, dried fruit or yogurt.  That’s YOUR breakfast, if YOU like it.  If high energy goo packs make you queasy, avoid them.  Recommendation doesn’t mean they’re right for you. Oranges can be a great refueler and rehydrater.  Use your personal experience to create a list of the foods to have on race day. You’ll be eating foods that allow you to perform optimally.  Also prepare to have an after-the-race meal waiting for you at end–be ready to refuel within 30 minutes.  And absolutely no experimentation on race day!

Are you willing to voice your health struggles with gut honesty?  If you are, share them with me.  I’d like to help you take steps toward living a fuller life.

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