What I Eat to Stay in Shape (It’s not Complicated.)

People often ask about my diet and how I maintain my girlish figure, so I thought I’d write about the staples of my nutrition.

Usually I giggle, curtsy, then tell them it’s all just cotton balls soaked in orange juice.

Not really, but you might be just as turned off once you start reading the list. This regimen is loosely based in science and mostly in convenience and personal taste. It’s by no means sophisticated, but it’s worked for me for almost ten years. A few trends to watch for:

  1. I rarely eat a full coherent meal. I do a lot of grazing and eat a single thing at a time.
  2. Cinnamon. Anything with carbs typically gets a dash of the stuff. It’s been shown to shallow out the curve of the body’s absorption rate of sugars, allowing for a more efficient metabolism of carbs. This means they’re less likely to be turned into fat.
  3. Water. It went without saying as I wrote this, but I rarely get calories from what I drink. If I drink anything other than water, it’s milk…or in-the-irony.
  4. Fiber. Both kinds, soluble and insoluble help you feel fuller longer and keep your bathrooming ticking like my Garmin fenix 3.

Salads 

The usual base is a spring mix of lettuces and spinach. On top of that I’ll add black beans, maybe some corn, tuna, peppers, avocado and…if I’ve been good, cheese. The dressing of choice is either ranch or bleu cheese. People freak out too much about fatty dressings. To process that fiber, you need the fat. A good, colorful salad not only fills you up, but also give you a wide variety of nutrients your body doesn’t typically get from processed foods. There’s a reason food manufactures use colorful packaging and dyes to augment food colors; we’re wired to seek out a colorful diet. Get one naturally with a big salad.

One note of caution if you’re considering boosting your fiber intake: Be sure to drink plenty of water. In order to move through your intestines, all that insoluble fiber needs water to keep it moving, otherwise you’ll end up with digestive pains that’ll make you think you were gut shot (so I’ve heard).

Dill Pickles

Zero calories and enough sodium to stave off muscle cramps after a hard endurance effort, dill pickles are an awesome quick snack. And if you’re trying to avoid being kissed by someone, they’re great at fending off would-be smoochers too.

Cold Oats

This is for all of us who grew up wishing they could be as cool as Wilfred Brimley. Usually eaten at breakfast, throw two cups of pressed oats into a bowl with just enough milk to float them, add in cinnamon, honey and vanilla to taste. I’ve also been known to mix in a little peanut butter too from time to time. Make your concoction in the evening before you go to bed, cover it up and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning you’ll have a hearty breakfast with a solid combination of fat, sugar, fiber and protein.

Experiment with your cold oats by adding berries, flax seed and walnuts.

Apples

Portable and refreshing, apples are easy to throw in a backpack to enjoy later on. Apples are mostly water, sugar and fiber so I don’t suggest going nuts on them, but they’re a great treat. My favorite variety is a Pink Lady. Their firm, sweet and tart flesh is great on its own, or paired with a dab of peanut butter.

If you’re in a pinch and need to entertain some people, you can always turn your apple into a puppet. I always name mine Corey and he makes everyone laugh nervously and act immensely uncomfortable.

Bananas and Peanut Butter 

35% of my body is comprised of bananas and peanut butter. They are the two primary foods I consume, but I eat them in different configurations…just to keep things interesting.

The Tim Log – Named primarily to gross out my wife, the Tim Log was the forerunner of all PB/Banana combinations. It arose from my intense love of ice cream and the need to find a healthier approximation. Peel a few bananas and let them freeze solid in the freezer. Once frozen, plate one on its side and top it end to end with peanut butter. As a final touch, dust your creation with cinnamon. Use your fork to chunk off slices and enjoy! Really class up the meal by using a few sheets of toilet paper as a napkin.

Dipping PB – I chase most of what I eat with whole milk, especially anything with peanut butter. In an effort to combine the drink with the food, I started mixing peanut butter in with the milk, a few drops of vanilla, cinnamon , then stir it up into a slurry with a fork. It’s great to dip both frozen and room temperature bananas into.

Shake – Two frozen bananas, two cups of milk, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a shot of cinnamon and bam – a simple, delicious and healthy shake with not a scoop of ice cream. If I’m making one of these after a session of weight lifting, I’ll throw in a scoop or two of chocolate protein powder.

Chocolate Milk

Quite possibly the perfect workout recovery drink (and cheap compared to engineered products like Muscle Milk), chocolate milk has the perfect ratios of proteins, sugars and fat. Buy the whole milk variety. It’ll fill you up and satisfy you faster than reduced fat milks. Also, try to save this treat for post-workout enjoyment. It’s pretty decadent by itself and won’t help you trim down if you’re just hitting itanytime you need a chocolate fix.

Triscuits & Hummus

If you like chips and dip, here’s your substitute. The creamy healthy fat of the chickpeas in the hummus pairs well with the crunch and saltiness of the Triscuit. Or, if you’re watching your dollars, Walmart has a generic Triscuit called, no kidding, “Woven Squares.” Someday my daughter is going to cite the fact that her Dad was so cheap that he bought Woven Squares while describing the tribulations of her childhood. Again, both the crackers and the hummus have fiber in them.

Venison

 

We’ve got piles of it, so why not eat it? Venison is lean, clean and delicious. Burgers, backstraps, roasts…if we spend any amount of time preparing an actual dinner meal, it’s usually because we’re having venison. In fact, we almost exclusively eat venison and have beef only three or four times per year. Cow is getting pricey and who knows how it’s handled at the processing facility?

Eggs

Scrambled, sunny side up or hard boiled, eggs are cheap, quick and easy to prepare. Sometimes I’ll crack a couple hard boiled eggs and hit them with little dab of ranch dressing on each bite. As a variation on the theme, every once in a while I’ll find a snapping turtle that’s gravid. In addition to providing us with some delicious dark meat for the BBQ, I’ll scramble those turtle eggs up (cut with a few chicken eggs) and have a snapping turtle omelet. That’s good eatin’.

Almonds

There’s no doubt I eat too many of these, but I suppose there are worse things to splurge on. One of my favorite varieties are the Blue Diamond Habanero BBQ in the can. They ain’t cheap, but they’re worth it. I’ll eat almonds candied, dry roasted and even drink almond milk from time to time (How do they milk those little things?). Almonds have good fats and are high in fiber.

Well, there it is. That’s my portfolio of meals and snacks that help keep me in shape. Perhaps you’re inspired, fascinated, repulsed or maybe you feel sorry for me. It is admittedly a spartan regimen, but one that I’ve found to work in concert with the exercise plan I’ve created. Calories matter, so make sure you’re getting quality ones that fill you up and fuel you for the shape you want to be in!

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