Eating Healthy

Joined Jan 26, 2001
I realize every topic discussed here goes with my topic. But I have just determined that I really really need to start eating healthier. Honestly, I am just confused as to what that really means.

Can someone run down the absolute basics for me?

Low fat vs. low calorie. Do you know that a lot of low-fat food is higher in calories than the higher fat versions? They add extra sugar for more flavor. So which is more important, less fat, or fewer calories?

What do I eat instead of icecream and candy? Seriously.

And please don't recommend a diet program. I don't have money to join one, and I'm more interested in general changes than following a specific plan.

Thanks, all. I should have asked a while ago.

Joined Aug 4, 2000
Here's a start:

A typical office worker who is 6' tall 200 pounds needs no more than about 2400 calories per day of food. Not knowing your height/weight (and I know that such is very personal information) it's tough to estimate caloric requirements.

One cannot eat enough veggies yet one can consume too much meat. A piece of meat about the size of a deck of playing cards is all the meat (not necessarily protein) that one should consume daily.

Add to that dietary regimen a 30 minute aerobic workout for obvious reasons: improved metabolism and well-being.

Get yourself a copy of the book PRESCRIPTION FOR NUTRITIONAL HEALING by Balch.

Dessert is my downfall - sorry!
Joined Mar 3, 2002
Good advice, Kokopuff. I may look up that book, too.

Shimmer, unless you're under the care of MD or nutritionist, reorganize your habits with moderation. Eat a lot of different foods in each category, substitute fruit for sugar treats (as much as possible<g>). Avoid any diet book that offers you extremes, such as no carbs, no protein, all xyz. Also, I've found that if you have an occasional absolute craving for something, eat it. Avoiding a sense of deprivation helps me keep on track. For example, when I MUST have something sweet, I'll sometimes get a sorbet which has intense flavor and (usually) no fat. I find it takes less sorbet to satisfy my yen than ice cream. And don't get a pint of it, find a place that will dip a cone of it.

In general I personally find low fat substitutes for foods that at their optimum are fatty only leave me hungry for the real thing. Instead, seek out dishes that are naturally lower in fat and/or calories when made at their best. For example when I bake a potato, I make a topping of yogurt, fresh herbs, finely minced (mashed, really) garlic. And in a good brand such as Stoneyfield, lofat yogurt is an exception to my "rule" below.

What you can healthfully and helpfully remove from your diet is all processed, packaged, preformulated foods. Particularly avoid anything that says LoFat, it's probably loaded with sugar and salt.

Make everything from scratch. If you're too tired when you get home from work to cook that way, make a batch of stew, soup, etc and freeze in baggies in 1 serving size. Use a lot of raw or simply steamed fresh veggies. You can serve them with a little mild vinegar and oil. (you can use less oil with a milder vinegar) To control your diet whether for weight reduction or general health, you need to know what's in the food you eat. Just getting rid of the chemicals is a plus.

Try to use fresh fruit and veggies. The more flavorful your food, the more satisfied you taste hunger is, the easier it is to control how much you eat, I find.

Get a scale.

Get a book that breaks down each food nutritionally, telling you what is sat fat, how many calories. For example, all beef isn't equally fatty. This will help you choose less fatty cuts most of the time. Some fats are more healthful than others. Such a book will help direct you to olive and grapeoil which are more healthful oils to cook with than most of the others. (All fat seems to have the same calories, but some are more unhealthy than others.) Find something to put on your bread besides butter such as a tapenade or vegetable spread (eggplant caviar, a homemade salsa). I find that I eat really good bread without anything on it, happily.

Good luck.
Joined May 6, 2001
I can recommend a book:
"Becoming Vegetarian" Vesanto Melina, R.D., Brenda Davis, R.D., Victoria Harrison, R.D.
This book contains alot of good information of basic nutrition for vegetarians, vegans and omnivores. The information on fats was most useful for me. It's available at and B&
Joined Aug 4, 2000
I eat vegetarian about 30% - 50% of the time. And when I crave Hagen Daas, Ben and Jerrys, or, desire an entire Pepperidge Farm Vienetta Cake for supper, I indulge. And I feel downright full for the entire day following. Yes, grant me redemption for I am a sinner! Fortunately I sin only once every 6 months or so.
Joined Apr 30, 2001
Want to know something kind of funny? As everyone knows, I'm diabetic and I have been working really hard to get and keep good control. And I'm doing it! My average blood sugar is now 100 mg/dl. Excellent if I do say so myself!

Last Wednesday, I impulsively bought a pint of Godiva chocolate-chocolate cheesecake premium super all of the sugar and twice the fat ice cream. I'll only eat a little, I said.

I ate half of it for dinner. Oops. Steak and ice cream. The dinner of champions. I figured that I had really screwed up and my blood sugar would be through the roof! But, when I did my post prandial check 2 hours later --- my BG was only 76! That's a little low, so I obviously had to eat more ice cream to bring it up.

My new theory is that ice cream lowers my blood sugar and I should eat more of it! And by the way, kokopuffs, I already went to diabetic confession about this!

Shimmer, consider checking out this author. I've heard good things from a nutritionist, but haven't read it myself yet. I'm encouraging others to read it and report back to me...

Joined Aug 4, 2000

In some cases I THINK that insulin receptors become resistant, leading to elevated blood sugar (BS). They MAY lose (some of) their resistance to insulin following a period of abstinence from sugar.

Also, just for information's sake, alcohol lowers BS. It interferes with the liver's ability to release sugar that has been stored in it. It's the mixer within the alcoholic beverage that elevates the BS. Bottoms up!

Back on the bully pulpit.

It's red meat and ice cream that are harmful to your health. Yet, it's red meat and ice cream PLUS EXERCISE that's beneficial or less harmful to the body. GET OUT THERE AND METABOLIZE, please.
Joined Apr 30, 2001

So, I should drink more tequila shooters and fewer margaritas?

Edited to add: I swim twice per week and do tai chi 3-4 times usually. I'm metabolizing the best I can, friend!


Joined Aug 4, 2000
Yeah! Lots more shooters, your body need minerals, right? Unless your margaritas are made from scratch - what better way is there of getting vitamin C?

Assuming we're middle age or younger, we all need to exercise IMHO 5 time per week. If , on the day(s) of rest fatigue is felt, then decrease the intensity by 25-30%.
Joined Mar 7, 2002
Brava! M. Kokopuffs!

Dear Abby has always believed in moderation and the occasional sinful indulgence. Her personal weakness is cheesecake. Dear Abby will not inform the diabetic police!

Joined Jan 26, 2001
One of the absolutes of any eating plan is to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Your body functions much more efficiently when properly hydrated.

Eat more fiber each day in the form of whole grains.

Get rid of processed foods. Keep fresh produce on hand so you are less tempted to eat empty calories.

Get rid of dairy. It is not a food for humans. Treat it as junk food.

Use expeller or cold pressed oils only. Mass produced oils are either heat pressed or chemically extracted which renders (no pun intended) the oils useless for a healthy diet. Canola is high in oleic acid (which is in fish oils) which is good for regulating cholesterol in the blood.

Buy organic. Your body doesn't need chemicals and in fact chemicals get in the way of the natural process of the digestion of food.

Eat oatmeal and use it in cooking and baking to replace fat. The natural fibers in oatmeal have the ability to lower cholesterol and cleanse your digestive tract.

Eat soy in the form of edamame (boiled green soybeans) and tofu.
Tofu contains 8 out of 9 essential amino acids and is the most complete form of protein you can eat. Meats and poultry have animal proteins which are harder for the human body to digest and absorb.

Avoid white flour and overcooked pastas. Use whole grain flours and pasta. Cook pasta al dente (Italian for to the tooth) which is slightly undercooked so it breaks down in the body slowly and does not convert to sugar too quickly.

White flour is often chemically treated and spikes your blood sugar and contributes to weight gain and the onset of diabetes.

Use fresh lemon juice, mild vinegars and herbs as flavor enhancers. Use sea salt in cooking sparingly. You only need a little salt. Too much and you throw off your body chemistry and can retain water.

Attend a natural foods cooking class (hint hint) to learn different ways of cooking.

Shop when you are not hungry so you are less likely to impulse buy.

Use non-stick pans so you use less oil in cooking.

Walk each and every day. It is the single best form of exercise and places less stress on joints.

Stay away from products claiming to be low-fat or no fat. Either they are chemically enhanced or full of sugars.

Sugar substitutes:

brown rice syrup - less sweet than sugar and is metabolized slower than cane

natural honey - use in moderation

Rapadura whole organic sugar made from organic sugar cane that has been squeezed and dried so it retains all the natural minerals and molasses. Use in about 1/2 to 3/4 amount compared to regular sugar.

Agave nectar made from cactus

Stevia - extract of South American plant up to 400 times sweeter than sugar yet it is not sugar. Can be eaten safely by most people. sold as a supplement because the FDA will not allow it to be marketed as a sugar substitute. If this was marketed as a sugar sub it would put nutrasweet, splenda and saccharing companies out of business.

Never use trans fatty acids - margarine, hydrogentated oils, some baked goods, soft drinks they can cause coronary disease and increase the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood

Use Earth balance spread made from soy, olive and palm oil. Low in saturated fat 3g versus 13 for butter. Excellent for baking and cooking.

Hope this helps.
Joined Jul 24, 2001
Well I object that eating healthy means that you are a vegeterian but this is not my problem right now.I don't know if I am changing the subject. If yes I apologize but I thought that it doesn't worth to start a thread ( or it does?)

On Monday the Lent begins and I have decided this year to follow the fast.

As a passionate meat consumer , I am really confused because I don't know what to eat.

According to the rules of fast for the Lent period, meat is forbidden of course and fish that contains blood is forbidden too !!! Eggs are out of question and diary products too but there is no way for me to live without milk or yoghurt so I'd rather burn myself in **** than abstain from yoghurt.

What is left???

Do you know a nice site about vegeterians? I have to confess that I have already started feeling miserable :(
Joined Nov 29, 2001
Originally posted by Shimmer
Can someone run down the absolute basics for me?

Heart-health and overall health are based on a few facts. For one, keeping the amount of fat you consume to a minimum not only benefits your weight but your heart. Second, you need to expend calories to keep your metabolism at a good rate - to put to work the "fuel" you consume. If you don't expend these calories, they are stored as fat. Fiber and vegetables are important. Protein is a basic building block and can be found in lean meats, fish and soy products. You do need some fat. If you try to cut it entirely out of your diet, the side effects are horrible. Your skin dries out and hair falls out. A great deal of the fat Americans consume sneaks its way into our diet in prefab food products and humungous restaurant portions. Be aware of quantities...Heaping helpings of food pile on calories as well as fat.

Low fat vs. low calorie. Do you know that a lot of low-fat food is higher in calories than the higher fat versions? They add extra sugar for more flavor. So which is more important, less fat, or fewer calories?

Bingo. You've just "outed" the technique kept secret by the manufacturers of low-fat products designed to replace full fat products...The addition of sugar to improve flavor. Not to mention the horribly undersized portions! Your calories should come from food that is as unadulterated as possible; and your fat should come from heathier sources like olive oil and polyunsaturated fats. (Things that don't hold their shape at room temp - also check labels for "trans fat" sources.) Keep in mind, "diet" products do not hit as many satiety buttons as full fat versions. Perhaps a small bit of something real can prevent you from eating a whole package of something fake. (I got fat eating Snackwells several years ago...)

What do I eat instead of icecream and candy? Seriously.

Yogurt, well-made granola, fruit, nuts (in moderation), sorbets, granitas, baked goods that have been designed to cut out a lot of the fat and replace it with crunchy, sensory-stimulating ingredients. And remember...any of this "retraining" is going to take time so don't freak out when your first handful of granola may not leave you as satisfied as that huge bowl of ice cream.

And please don't recommend a diet program. I don't have money to join one, and I'm more interested in general changes than following a specific plan.

Lucky for you this is not necessary. All the info on the net that's available, books, friends' experiences, etc. can negate the necessity of joining an "organized" diet program. Learning the basics is a great first-step. Watch shows like "Cooking Thin" on the Food Network to get practical applicable methods and a world of information from a spa chef. It's worth recording.

Also, ask your doctor. For #*@& sake, this is what they get paid for! He/She may have a written down plan you could follow for a while until you get the hang of cutting unnecessary fat and calories out of your diet. Whatever you do, please don't try a fad diet like Atkins or the cabbage diet, etc. Quick fixes will not help you look better in the long term and can be very harmful to your present and future health.

Perhaps the first building block of a healthier diet is your firm commitment to make the changes and live by them. If you simply declare yourself to "wanna lose a pound or two," your whole program is built on a foundation of sand. Embracing a better way of eating and living will show itself in your appearance, your medical stats, and overall quality of life.
Joined Mar 14, 2002
Making the lifestyle changes to eat more healthy is probably one of the hardest things to do. I've spent 30+ years working on this lifestyle, and it isn't easy to change!!

I made my first change 6 1/2 years ago when my husband and I decided to have another child. I was so severly hooked on caffeine (Mt. Dew) that I needed it to sleep! While in Culinary School we did a nutrition project where we wrote down all of our calories for 2 weeks, and then tried to make changes for the next 2 weeks. It came out that 75% of my calories were from Mountain Dew. That was the first moment I realized I needed a change.

That change was the hardest 6 weeks of my life!! I would rather give birth for 6 weeks than EVER go off cold turkey again. But I have been clean since then, and have been working on all the OTHER changes that need to happen.

I recommend the book "Eating Well for Optimium Health" by Dr. Weil. He gives a good lesson in Nutrition. Also, there are general guidelines I have come up with.

First, I WILL NOT count calories, fat etc. I may eat very low fat one day and higher the other. I will just go nuts trying to calculate things each day. I also don't deny myself specific foods. With my personality if I try to deny, then I start to crave that food.

Okay, eat more fish. This simple act with automatically cut down your red meat intake. Eat smaller portions of meat and larger of veggies and rice etc.

Eat colorful food. By eating food with color you will automatically increase your nutrition. Also, eat in season. It's cheaper and the food is better in quality.

Don't plan meals based on meat. Re-think the usual meal planing of "...I have a roast, now what will go with it." to "...I am making a rice and vegetable pilaf medley, what will go with it?"

Eat more beans! Some how, some way add beans into your diet, this will also help you cut down on meat intake. I've added beans to my fussy kids' diet by cooking them and pureeing them and adding the mixture to my taco mix and pasta sauce. They don't know, and probably never will!

Cut out on drinking empty calories. Don't supersize the soda, or don't drink the soda at all. I dumped 15 pounds by giving up Mt. Dew and doing nothing else! I will not comsume the "diet" drinks, I drink hot tea (green), water, milk (skim), and fruit juices. Soda is a treat, not a way of life.

Learn about soluble fiber, like eating oatmeal and whole grains. These foods keep you feeling "full" longer because they are digested slower. They also keep your cholesterol down. Science is coming out with new info on this every day. The diet trend of tomorrow is going to be "lower my blood sugar diet".

Cook with olive oil, and use the butter and cream sparingly. I make wonderful cream soups with skim milk and a tiny bit of half/half or cream. If you think only heavy cream can add flavor you need to re-think it!!

One thing I have learned from the "Eating Well" book is to read labels and avoid "High Fructose Corn Syrup" you would be SHOCKED where you find it!

And.....for the question, "What to eat instead of ice cream and candy?" Well, I still eat ice cream and I do eat candy. I have found a great light ice cream, and I have learned to cut back on my portion size. Instead of filling a bowl full I eat a cone, cutting my serving in half. I buy candy on occasion, but always those little bit-size ones. One or two usually calm the "chocolate" craving for me.

For me the cravings for sweet candies and ice cream and junk in general come when I am VERY hungry. I have started eating breakfast in some form every day and I curb my "lunch time " munchies. I start my day with a cup of tea, a muffin or scone of some kind (my own, NOT those things from the store) that is made with oatmeal, whole grains and usually fruit and from a lower fat recipe. Believe it or not there are some GREAT scone and muffin recipes out there. Some kind of fruit, depending on the season, a fruit juice. My fave is fresh squeezed orange or grapefruit juice. That really fills me up and I eat a light lunch with my daughter after Kindergarten. She is a picky meat eater, so I usually make a meat-less meal for us.

I have found with this I am eating less "munchies", I crave sweets less, and things are slowly changing. Do I still eat things that aren't good for me? Sure, we all do! But I am doing it less and the nasty habits I worked so hard at are slowly changing!!

Tami if I could just get tofu into my meat eating husband all will be well!!
Joined Mar 3, 2002
You've gotten a lot of really good information.

Whether you are motivated by a desire for better health or simply a slimmer waist, it is important that you keep good nutrition in mind. Too many fad diets (none recommended here, of course) can do harm to you.

Essential ingredients to better health (and slimmer waist):

1. Get a physical and know what your base line is before making any major changes. As has been suggested, s/he may even have some helpful recommendations. But remember many, particularly older MD's don't have nutrition training.

2. Exercise, walking is excellent and not likely to harm you.

3. Get a few books on the subject and read up on what you're doing. Libraries if you can't spend the money. In addition to those already suggested, Drs Dean Ornish and Andrew Weil (see Chefmom's post) have several out. Ornish emphasizes preventative and curative diet (+ exercise & meditation) to keep the heart healthy; he even has a cookbook. Weil heads the complementary medicine department at U of Arizone. Both have web sites:

4. I would personally recommend your owning a copy of a book that will give you the nutritional value, including fat and calories of food that you eat. You need to be careful as all too many of them emphasize processed foods by brands, etc. What you need is one that will give you the fresh foods and staples that you should be eating for a healthy diet. This will be a handy reference for you.
Joined Mar 3, 2002
Thought I'd post the White Dog (drop) scone recipe here. It's dead easy to make, has only 1/2 Tbs butter per scone; the buttermilk is essentially low fat. It has only 3 Tbs sugar divided among the 16 scones it makes! It's from the White Dog Cafe recipe book. WDC is a very popular long time Phila restaurant off the U of Pa campus. It's not a "health food" restaurant.

I make the full batch, freeze them on a sheet pan, store in baggie, and bake just before eating. Once baked, I don't think they keep very well so bake what you'll eat that day. . My 5 year old gd was very enthusiastic about them.

ORANGE AND BLACK CURRANT SCONES WHITE DOG CAFÉ: Makes 16 (1/4 recipe follows ingred)
serve with raspberry jam and whipped cream

4 cups flour (1 cup)
3 Tbs granulated sugar (3/4)
2 tsp baking powder (1/4)
2 tsp baking soda (1/4)
1/4 tsp salt (pinch)
8 oz butter, diced (2 oz)
grated zest of 2 oranges (½ orange)
2 eggs (½ egg)
1 cup + 2 Tbs buttermilk (1/4 cup + ½ Tbs)
1 ½ cups dried black currants (3/8 cup)
raw or granulated sugar
garnish: raspberry jam & whipped cream

combine flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt; mix well. Cut in butter and zest til mixture resembles fine granules.

2. Whisk eggs and buttermilk; pour over dry ingredients and sprinkle on the currants. Stir just til ingredients come together and soft dough forms. Do not overmix or scones will be tough.

Divide into 16 mounds; place 1" apart on ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle each with a little raw sugar; cover; refrigerate 15 minutes - overnight

Oven at 375f.

Bake chilled scones til lightly browned on top, 20 minutes. Cool on rack. Serve at room temperature. Best if eaten same day.

[If buttermilk is not available, You can substitute either the powdered dry buttermilk or make some with milk + vinegar. King Arthur sells the powdered buttermilk as do some markets]
Joined Mar 3, 2002
Kokopuffs, I use King Arthur all purpose flour, but it might work even better with pastry flour.

A few other particulars that might be useful:

I freeze the butter, quarter it lengthwise before cutting across into irregular little chunks (c. 1/4 - 3/4") so I'll get irregular meal with a few larger bits. I mix it in the cuisinart. (same as for pate brisee)

I always keep raisins and currants soaking in rum (brandy, etc ok, too) so they will be soft, juicy, flavorful, and drain them before adding by hand at the end.

If baking frozen scones, do not defrost them, bake a little longer (I've never timed it). I always use an oven thermometer.
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