So, What Exactly DO You Eat?

I get questions all the time: “What do you eat?” “How many calories do you consume?” “Like.. no bread? How is that even possible?”

Let me preface by saying: I don’t count calories. Ever.

I know I just blew your mind. You’re probably thinking, “WTF??!! No, you’re on a diet. You count calories.” Wellllll, no. I don’t. I just don’t care to because it’s way too time consuming for me. I eat when I’m hungry, and usually, I eat what I want to eat. I go through periods when I eat way more fruit than I should and that’s okay.

My meals mostly consist of proteins and vegetables, as well as some type of fat (lately, it has been olive oil). Though, on my long days at school, I sometimes have yogurt, nuts, or fruit (or all three).

When you look at my meals, you may think, “Holy crap, that’s a lot of vegetables! Are you crazy with those vegetables?” and yes, it’s mainly a vegetable filled plate; those vegetables are always cooked in fat or oil. This is because the feeling of fullness generally disappears on the paleo diet as you cut out carbs. A large consumption of fat is necessary for the feeling of satiety. Fat is not bad for you. Mark from Mark’s Daily Apple notes that it isn’t fat causing atherosclerosis (thickening of the artery walls) but oxidized LDL (the bad cholesterol).

In order to feel full, I listen to my body. It usually goes like this:

Brittany, I’m craving some brussel sprouts.

To which I’ll say, “By golly, I should make some brussel sprouts in olive oil!”

Does my body want protein? Then, I’ll have a protein filled plate. Does it want veggies? Fruit? I don’t deprive my body of what it’s telling me it wants, and I think this is a huge reason this diet has been a success.

I’ll eat what I want, thanks! You ain’t the boss of ME!

Brussel sprouts, asparagus, & grass-fed beef

Brussel sprouts, asparagus, & grass-fed beef

Here is a meal I ate the other day (I’m on a huge brussel sprout kick right now). I was feeling incredibly hungry, so I added a lot of veggies (cooked in olive oil) to my plate. Notice that I didn’t cut the fat off the beef. First of all, I think fat is delicious. Second, it’s great for you, as we’ve established.

Typical breakfast: eggs, brussel sprouts, green beans, oranges, and coffee

Typical breakfast: eggs, brussel sprouts, green beans, oranges, and coffee. Not pictured: morning smoothie.

Morning smoothie: 1 cup swiss chard or spinach, 1 banana, 1 handful raspberries, 5 strawberries, 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 tablespoon green matcha

Morning smoothie: 1 cup swiss chard or spinach, 1 banana, 1 handful raspberries, 5 strawberries, 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 tablespoon green matcha

The above is my typical breakfast: protein, vegetables, and fruit. Coconut oil (in my smoothie) is ohhhh my god so good for your skin and health in general. Coconut oil has medium-chain triglycerides; MCTs are “easily digested, absorbed, and put to use nourishing the body.”

A typical lunch at home (the salad was a bonus)

A typical lunch at home (the salad was a bonus). Turkey andouille sausage, brussel sprouts, asparagus, and a raw vegetable salad.

At home, I have protein and vegetables for lunch. I had a “bonus” salad because I went to the store. A majority of the salad dressing is made from olive oil. Olive oil is my favorite oil to use because it reduces oxidized LDL (the bad cholesterol) and helps raise HDL (the good cholesterol).

It may look like my diet doesn’t vary very much, but it actually does. I’m just on a huge brussel sprout and asparagus kick lately. I’m not perfect; I don’t always have a protein for lunch. Or, I may have a few more brazil nuts than I should. GASP! It all depends on what my body is asking for.

Are you afraid of fat? Do you cook with fats or oils? If so, what kind do you use?

Edit: if you’re looking for good apps to use to track your diet, check out Unwilling Vegan’s post entitled “A Day in the Life of a College Vegan.”

Nutrition Label Shmabel

If you haven’t heard, the FDA is changing the nutrition label that you find on packaged products.

FINALLY! Right?! ‘Cause I’ve been waiting 20 years for this to happen. Oh wait, no I haven’t.

Well, why haven’t I? Because who actually reads nutrition labels, really? I see people all the time in the grocery store (which is one of my favorite places to hang out, just so you know) pick up items off the shelf and dump them in their cart. No questions asked, no label scrutinized.

When I was younger, I didn’t bother with reading labels either. Because.. Well, let’s face it: I liked what I liked. I was young. I didn’t care what was in it. If it was delicious, I ate it. I never had a nutrition class in high school, so why would I bother looking at the label? I didn’t know what it meant anyway. 50% of my daily intake of fat? Okay. Sounds good and delicious: I’ll take that one, please!

So, let’s look at the new label. Some changes they’ve made (and some commentary):

New nutrition label by the FDA Image courtesy fda.gov

New nutrition label by the FDA
Image courtesy fda.gov

  • Larger font for total calories: alright, I guess, not that people seem to take this into high consideration.
  • Requirement for showing added sugars: this is one change I approve of 2,000%!
  • Removing the calories from fat info: sure, this one is alright. I doubt anyone was looking at it before, so why not?
  • Moving percentages into the left column: I think this looks particularly tacky. Are they trying to scare people with the “large” numbers? If people didn’t see it before, they probably didn’t look at food labels.
  • Serving sizes based on what people actually eat: I’m on the fence about this change, but I’ll address it later.
  • Removing vitamin A & C percentages: good move, these are found in everything. They were never really needed.
  • Adding vitamin D & potassium: vitamin D is certainly important, but I’m not seeing the advantage of potassium. Potassium is in a lot of foods, so maybe someone can enlighten me on why this change was implemented.

The biggest and most positive change being made is addressing whether there are any added sugars. I want to know how many added sugars are in something and so should you. Those “natural flavors” aren’t actually so natural, and they are really, really bad for you. Why?

Natural vs added sugars Image courtesty boostjuice.com.au

Natural vs added sugars
Image courtesy boostjuice.com.au

Read up, people: a study on the effects of sugar. Yes it’s true. A Cambridge University study has found that it’s not that saturated fat killing you, but rather the lovely sugar people add to everything. It has been impossible to get an accurate depiction of just how many sugars are natural (milk and fruit sugars) and how many come from added sugars in processed products. How is the average person supposed to know the difference between these two distinctive types of sugars when the ingredients label is nothing but scientific jargon, anyway? They can’t, and this is why it needs to change.

In regards to changing the serving size to reflect American portions: I have a hard time with this. The standard serving size for a juice drink, for example, is 8 ounces (one cup). However, the new “standard size” is actually 12 ounces, and this will be reflected on the label. The change will allow people to accurately see how many calories they are actually consuming.. Or will they? Because who knows if they’ll even care about the nutrition label.

Whole foods Image courtesy berkeleyside.com

Whole foods
Image courtesy berkeleyside.com

The answer to all of this is to eat whole foods. Stick to something without a box. The label becomes obsolete and useless once you start doing so. In addition, you can ditch counting calories. Why waste your time with that? The body thrives on whole foods, so you won’t even need to worry about it (unless you’re taking the opportunity to eat 3 or 4 bags of grapes).

What do you think of the label changes?