Eat This…And That…And That…

A coworker of mine is in the process of cleaning up her diet by a doing a vegan “cleanse.”  She says although it’s a great way to reset the body, the first few days are pretty rough due to her body’s dependency on sugar and caffeine. Apparently it’s a real eye-opener to the additives in food we don’t even think about consuming. Although I wussed out nearly a year ago when I tried a vegan diet, I did make more of an effort to eat more naturally. Because of this choice, I now have difficulty enjoying the “normal” foods I once loved.

As many of you know, I started my journey to a healthier life three years ago when I began exercising regularly. The first year was really focused on getting into a routine of exercising 5-6 days a week and the second year I tried to work on limiting or completely eliminating meat from my diet. The third year has by far been the most successful on two fronts: my diet and finding the joy in fitness.

When I first started trying to clean up my diet, I was very stubborn about hanging on to certain foods. For example, I loved **French fries, so I opted to exercise an extra 15-20 minutes just so I could enjoy these little buggers. I wasn’t willing to give up much, so imagine my excitement when I found the wonderful online version of Eat This, Not That. It offered better-for-you alternatives to the traditional foods I loved and also helped me understand how much I was consuming when I went to restaurants. Before I knew it, I was flying over my second year plateau and still enjoying my goodies.

By my third year, or more accurately, June of 2011, I was two years (soda) sober and had really started thinking about what I was putting into my body. The fast food was almost completely eliminated (with the exception of Subway) because of a combination of the vegetarian diet and finally being able to ***taste my food. I had started food journaling, which I absolutely stand behind, but realized I was opting for low-calorie foods over ones with nutrition. I had started to plan my Running to Rome challenge and knew these foods wouldn’t do me any favors on my longer runs. I hit the produce section hard and started loading my cart on broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and fresh fruit. I tried to opt for fruit for dessert and decided to lay off the granola for a while. Before I knew it, I was actually turning my nose up to anything with a long ingredient list and gobbling down the fresh stuff. I finally felt full at lunch and noticed I was staying well within (sometimes under) my caloric goal.

Fitting a ton of filling veggies into a big salad is a fast and easy way to get some serious nutrition.

Although Eat This, Not That helped me tremendously when trying to decide what to order at a restaurant, I now know that for me, the best choice is always the cleanest, simplest dish on the menu. I do encourage all of you who are easing your way into a healthier diet to visit this site and examine the many lists of alternatives. This site also offers many grocery store guides that really helped me navigate my way through the middle aisles when I needed pantry staples.

My Healthy Choice of the Day: Since I didn’t post one yesterday, I’ll cover two. Yesterday, I listened to my body and only did a 2.45 mile run. I was coming off an 8 day hiatus from running and knew too much too soon would wreck my week. Today, my healthy choice was loading up on fruit and veggies for lunch. I enjoyed leftover tomatoes, cucumbers, and cauliflower, as well as fresh broccoli and a plum for lunch. (Don’t forget the Atheno’s Roasted Garlic Hummus!)

Running to Rome Update: I’m currently 20 miles from my September goal. I fell quite a bit behind, but intend to catch up this weekend. My running total is 54.10 miles since July 4th. The number is so much smaller than I thought, but hopefully I’ll improve.

**Eat This, Not That Swap:

EAT THIS:

KFC Potato Wedges

Yes, please.

260 calories

13 g fat (2.5 saturated)

740 mg sodium

NOT THAT:

Wendy’s Medium Fries

410 calories

19 g fat (3.5 g saturated)

350 mg sodium

***When I was fifteen, I took a trip to see my family in Seattle, Washington. We had dinner at a Thai restaurant one night and noticed the waiter tossed me a side glance when I ordered a Coke. At the time I assumed it was because I was new to the Thai cuisine and he had heard me asking the pronunciation of certain dishes. However, after he took our orders, my cousin Emily informed me that in some Asian cultures, it’s insulting to order a carbonated beverage, because it distills the taste buds. I didn’t give up soda until several years later, but I did notice a big difference in taste when I did.

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