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Author Topic: Dietary Plans
Dr Strangelove
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This turned out to be a much longer post than anticipated. I put a "Cut to the chase" section at the very end on the off chance that you're not interested in the full rundown of my dietary philosophy and future [Wink] .

So I'm an unhealthy eater. I actually have pretty good health, but when it comes to the amount and kind of food I consume, I am decidedly unhealthy. I tend to ... not eat, for lack of a better word. And when I do finally remember, I tend to just eat the thing that's nearrest to me, which tends to be something from a fast food company or a vending machine. I will sometimes go out to eat at Chile's or Ruby Tuesdays, or some other middling restuarant of similar nature, but I'm also trying to not spend money. And heck, when I do eat there I usually get a burger or something greasy. But as I said, these are the exceptions: My real problem is that I just don't eat. And from what I understand, that's not healthy.

Just to be clear, I'm not wasting away, nor am I a sickly person at all. And I'm not lazy. I just don't think of food/eating as important at all. This probably comes from the fact that when I was hiking in Maine, I severely underestimated how much food I needed and was quite literally starving. Not to death, but when you're the only person for 50 miles in any direction and you have a bag of trail mix to sustain you hiking over some pretty rough terrain, and you can already feel your body eating away at itself to survive, it puts a different perspective on hunger. But that's another story. All that to say, I know my body. I know when I have to eat. And that's rarely. I survive. And heck, I'm actually really healthy as far as sickness and stuff goes. I never get sick, I'm not weak in any sense of the word (not strong necessarily, but not weak). But lately I've just been more and more disgusted with what I eat and when. I want to change.

So one of my goals for the new (school) year is to eat healthier. I've figured out that the whole 3 square meals a day thing just doesn't work for me. I don't have enough time for breakfast, I forget lunch, or just decide to wait until dinner, and then sometimes I'll have dinner, but sometimes I'll decide I don't feel like eating and ... well, not eat. It's not all that uncommon for me to only eat one meal over several days.

So my solution to that problem is to plan out 5 or 6 small meals/snacks a day, then to buy the things in bulk and store them where I'll be, such as at work, or in my backpack, or my bedroom, so that I'll eleminate the excuse of "Eh, I'm not hungry enough to go get something".

Firstly, is this a good idea? Or is it smarter to try to discipline myself to eat three meals.

Secondly, what should I eat? I'm really a dunce when it comes to what's healthy and what isn't. For instance, I like the idea of having some combination of poptarts, donuts, apples, bananas, sour cream and chive cracker sandwhich things, peanut butter and jelly, and some sort of sandwhich with cheese, meat, maybe some salad, and vinegar. I love vinegar. My hopes is that I'll inadvertantly hit all the important food groups or whatever with that selection of things that I like and enjoy eating. But I'm probably wrong. So does anyone have suggestions as to how to improve my list of good things? Obviously I want things that will keep at least for a week. My home and office have refrigerators, but my backpack, unfortunately does not.

Cut to the chase: I'm trying to eat healthier. I'm thinking about eating small meals or snacks 5-6 times a day rather than three.
- Is this a good idea?
- What should these small meals consist of, from a health standpoint?

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twinkies and/or dingdongs and soda for breakfast
snickers and soda for mid morning snack
fried chicken and soda and fries for lunch
snickers and soda for afternoon snack
healthy dinner (pizza or cheeseburgers)
icecream sunday for late night snack

You are welcome

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Trent Destian
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lobo has the truth of it.
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Several small meals throughout the day shouldn't be a problem provided you're still getting all the necessary nutrients and such. Others with nutritional education/experience will be more specific, but I can at least suggest with confidence that you try to avoid the processed foods as much as possible. More fruits and veggies, baked foods rather than fried, less red meat, etc. are general universal guidelines, but you may also want to keep track of calorie and fat intake and maybe take a multivitamin.
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Get granola bars instead of poptarts and leave a box in your backpack. Donuts should be an occasional thing, not an every day thing. You have no vegetables listed except maybe some salad, how about baby carrots? They're easy and healthy.
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Watch out for packaged foods. Even a lot of 'healthy' granola bars and things still have HF corn syrup and other preservatives and things that aren't that great for you. Read labels, and if you can't pronounce anything in the ingredient list, consider something else. Apples, bananas, celery, carrots -- all very good things to munch on. Peanut butter tastes good and adds protein.

Watch out for high-carb/starch things like donuts, pop tarts, crackers, whatever. They'll raise your blood sugar up really quickly, but then you'll come crashing down. Complex carbs that have fiber will fill you up better and burn slower. Again, fruit is a good option here.

Consider salads as a good on-the-go food. A lot of times you can get them in bags pre-made at the grocery store. Open bag, insert fork. Add something like pre-cooked chicken (one person can eat a deli roast chicken for a while), hard-boiled eggs, cheese, etc...and you have a full-fledged meal that has plenty of protein. I thought I hated salads until I realized my hatred was 100% towards iceberg lettuce. Dark greens like romaine or baby spinach have much more nutrients and taste a heck of a lot better.

Getting pre-packaged produce or deli isle fare is probably a bit cheaper than eating out all the time, but not as cheap as making the food yourself. If you cook your food yourself, you know *exactly* what is going into your system. I like that. Plus it's reasonable for basic materials: frozen chicken pieces, hamburger, lettuce heads, frozen peas, rice, etc. It's going to add time, which doesn't seem like something you want, but I propose trying it anyway. You might find you like it.

Props to you for being such an intuitive eater, though. It's good to listen to your body to tell you when you're hungry, instead of eating as a social or boredom activity (which I do far too often). The important thing is to *listen* to it and feed your body what it needs.

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Tante Shvester
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Keep some fresh fruit in your refrigerator. It is a terrific "convenience food", that you can grab when you feel like eating something quick. Ditto any veggies that you like to munch on. If you prep them once a week, they will be ready for you to grab when the mood strikes you. I like carrots, celery sticks, jicama sticks, and peeled broccoli stems. You can eat them dipped or spread with peanut butter.

Potatoes are cheap, and you can pop one in the microwave and eat it with cheese for a quick meal.

They sell frozen edamame (soybeans) in the frozen vegetable section of the supermarket. I love to eat those, boiled (in the microwave) with salt.

If you buy a chicken and roast it one day, you can eat cooked chicken all week; just grab a drumstick from the refrigerator.

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You know what, if you aren't malnourished, function normally (like you have the energy to do normal tasks), and not eating doesn't cause you enough discomfort to bother you, why bother trying to eat regular meals?

I've read about some studies that suggest reduced calorie intake, such as fasting every other day, or simply eating less than a normal person would to maintain weight, might actually improve your health and prolong your life. Google "reduced calorie intake" or "restricted calorie diet" for plentiful reading material.

Humans probably didn't evolve to eat the same amount of food every day anyway, let alone 3 squares, so I don't know why it's considered ideal by so many. (Actually it's probably to avoid overeating that people recommend eating consistently - in particular eating 5 or 6 times a day is an anti-binge strategy - but it doesn't sound like excessive calorie intake is your problem.)

Avoiding mass produced food like substances is probably good advice. Maybe it would even increase your appetite. But I don't see why you should worry about not having much of an urge to eat as long as you are maintaining a normal weight and can carry out normal activities.

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Dr Strangelove
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I agree scifibum that I shouldn't force myself to eat. The issue is that when I do get hungry, I tend to eat junk food. So I want to stash healthy things so that when I feel the need to eat I won't go to the vending machine and eat two bags of garden salsa Sun Chips and can of Fanta.

The issue with salad is... well... I don't like it. At all. The only way I like it is swimming in italian dressing. I like the idea of carrots though. And I'm defintely not opposed to celery with peanut butter either.

I think if I actually set aside a time to cook, I could enjoy it. I'd just like to do it all at once. Maybe a once a week cooking thing, like the chicken you mentioned Tante. I'm not a huge chicken fan, nor a huge potato fan, but I think I could go for that. Cheese is good. I think I need to definitely make cheesesticks an integral part of my diet.

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How about just dipping romaine lettuce leaves in olive oil and balsamic vinegar instead of salad? Maybe sprinkle some shredded Parmesan cheese on it, too.

Also, you might want to get yourself an insulated lunchbox and a blue ice. Then you can keep stuff cold while you're transporting it.

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If you're in need of something easy, cheap, and nutritious without being too heavy on the stomach, I'd recommend a meal-replacement bar or drink; personally, I like the Boost brand. They're usually found with the dietary supplies in most grocery stores, and come in packs of 6 or so. At about $8.00 per pack, that's barely breaking $1 a meal.

For me, they're a great way to start the morning. I don't like to feel really full when I'm trying to get going every day, so drinking a meal-replacement gives me energy and a lot of vitamins (close to an actual multi-vitamin tablet, which makes my doctor happy) without leaving me listless or logy. And, since it's a drink, you can grab one on your way out the door or on the way to wherever.

I, too, am trying to eat better, and I find it easier if I can spend a Saturday afternoon cooking things that I can reheat easily. I'll just cook a meal, pop it into a plastic container, throw it in the fridge, and it's ready to go whenever I want it. Saves me from myself, and my love of curly fries.

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I like to make a yogurt smoothie: fresh or frozen fruit (rasp-, straw-, or blueberries, or mango or peach), spoonful or two of sugar, and fill up the blender with half yogurt and half milk. Blend, and ideally pour into maybe 10-oz bottles. Then you have a snack that'll keep for a week or two in the fridge.
You can also buy smoothies like this at the supermarket. Milk/yogurt is good protein, which will satisfy you when you're hungry and don't have time for a meal. And it makes your bones strong.

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Actually some folks state that it's better to eat 5-6 small meals instead of 3 big ones or 2 big ones like I do when I don't have a job.
Just carry around things like yogurt cups (Stoneybrook farm makes these great smoothies, no HFCS, and very delicious) and if there is a trader joe's near you they are bound to have healthy stuff like these fruit bars and decent cereal.

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the best meal plan ive ever seen is the one i had to go on when i became a diabetic. ive even convinced several girls i know to look into healthy eating with diabetes because they were so impressed that i ate so healthy all the time.

This lets you eat from any food group, but in moderation and involves carb counting and portion control.

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