It really is a good thing when you take the time to prepare your meals and snacks for the next day. I’ve been spending most my lunch breaks in rehearsal with international choir (the premier choir on campus, with which Wayland Singers is collaborating for the trip to Europe in a few weeks), and since I have Wayland Singers three mornings per week, I have to make sure I make up enough time at work to cover those three hours. This means I eat my lunch at my desk, spend 30 minutes with Int’l choir, and come straight back to the office. I don’t get to go home for anything, so I’ve spent quite a few mornings over the past week and a half emailing Edgar lists of things I needed him to bring me because I didn’t take the time to prepare it myself the night before. This hasty preparation hasn’t really worked out to the best that it should. The past few days I’ve found myself insatiably hungry and whatever I brought (or had Edgar bring) hasn’t really satisfied my hunger. This means expensive trips to the campus bookstore to grab a bag of almonds, a fruit cup in light syrup, a sugary Clif bar, or a bag of trail mix. Clearly, I can do better.
Last night I made a point to pack my breakfast (overnight oats in a peanut butter jar. unpictured), lunch, and all snacks that I might possibly need:
- Sandwich with avocado, hummus, pepperjack, and spinach on Oroweat “Healthfull” 10 Grain bread
- Red Grapes
- Heirloom navel orange (it was AWESOME!)
- Organic edamame (for the protein. More on that in a sec)
- Carrot slices (I don’t like biting into big thick baby-cut carrots!)
- ½ cup of nonfat plain yogurt mixed with 2 oz of blackberries and a squirt (4g) of agave
About protein, etc.
I’ll say first that I respect people who adopt vegan or vegetarian lifestyles, as long as they’re doing it for the right reasons, going about it in a healthful way, eating whole foods, etc. I do believe that it is possible to get sufficient protein from plant sources if you are conscious of the nutritional content of your food sources.
However, I do know that it is very difficult to get other nutrients that are commonly paired with protein in an exclusively plant-based diet. Zinc, vitamin D, selenium, niacin, vitamin b-12, and to some extent iron and calcium, are all more heavily concentrated in meat/dairy products, and unless you’re being very, very vigilant, it’s easy to overlook these necessary nutrients.
But above everything else, I feel that everyone needs to do what it appropriate for their own lifestyle and body’s needs. For me, I require more protein (and possibly other nutrients that are paired with protein, as listed above) than many other women. I’m taller than average at just about 5’7”, moderately active, have a large body frame and 115 lbs of lean body weight (total weight minus weight in body fat). And I’ve found that while I can successfully limit my consumption of meat for economic, environmental, and ethical reasons without trouble, eliminating animal proteins completely from my diet leaves me feeling lethargic, hungry, and possibly with some blood sugar issues. I’ve found that to feel satisfied, my body requires roughly 90-100 grams of protein per day. This is quite a bit more than the standard minimum of about 45g/day.
Now about soy. Many vegetarians turns to soy as their primary protein source, and I don’t see a problem with that if that’s appropriate for your body. Soy is high in protein, polyunsaturated fats (which can lower your LDL cholesterol!), fiber, and many micronutrients. However, many studies suggest (here, here, and here) that the phytoestrogens in soy could encourage growth in breast cancer cells in those at risk for estrogen-induced breast cancer. Since my mom was diagnosed with estrogen-induced breast cancer a year ago, I’m automatically at risk. While the jury is still out on the subject, and studies are still conflicting, I don’t want to take a chance. This is why I try to limit my soy consumption to the very occasional organic, non-GMO, whole-food soy product (soy milk, tempeh, tofu, edamame, soy sauce, etc. Nothing trying to parade around as something it’s not, like “chick’n patties”). In general Americans eat waaaaaaay too much soy, specifically in processed food (soy lecithin is in EVERYTHING, and now soy protein isolate is popping up a lot, too), and at that level of processing, I can’t imagine that any of the benefits of soy still remain in the product.
So when you factor in my need for protein, my hesitance toward soy, and my lifestyle (land-locked by cotton fields, cattle ranches, and Mexican food restaurants in the middle of the Texas panhandle plains), I do eat meat and don’t plan to ever try to eliminate it from my diet. However, I do try to be responsible about it. I get the majority of my beef, pork, and lamb from Paidom Meats, a local rancher who raises only 100% grass fed meat (with the exception of his “transitional” pork). The bison meat I can pick up from the local grocery chain comes from Comanche Buffalo in Lawton, OK (sort of local). I can typically get free range chicken at our Walmart, but when I can find Rosie’s Organic Free Range chicken at Sun Harvest for not too much money, I pick it up then. Occasionally I’ll get some grass-fed meat from Central Market, Whole Foods, or Sun Harvest when I can find it inexpensively. When I choose seafood, I try to go for what’s been declared a sustainable variety. And yes, doing this may cost marginally more money, but it’s offset by the fact that I don’t usually buy it until I see it on sale. Plus I don’t depend on it. I’ve had a stash of meat in my freezer for a while now, and it’s not exactly dwindling very fast! I typically eat meat once a day, and that’s usually at dinner, but it’s not uncommon for me to be too lazy to thaw out the meat that I just decide to go meatless. It’s not a big deal. I try to include a combination of beans/legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, and dairy into my diet to make up some of my protein requirements. Plus, a side benefit to this is that the greater variety in that sort of diet makes it possible to meet more of my daily nutrient recommendations!
Of course, I’ll also mention that I definitely do eat the occasional bacon, full-sugar Dr Pepper, or the skin off a roast chicken (I take that back. I ALWAYS eat the skin off a roast chicken!), and I have no problem with that. I don’t really have hard-and-fast rules with my diet. I don’t think eating any less-than-nutritious food is going to derail my health overnight, nor is it something to be ashamed of. What matters is consistency, and I am not constantly eating those things. While I prefer to put nutrient-dense, biologically beneficial, economically responsible food in my body, I don’t think there’s such thing as a “perfect” diet, even if I was able to successfully eliminate anything and everything that scientific studies deemed “bad” for me. I’m not into labeling my eating habits or my food. I just like to test the waters, explore my possibilities, see what works best for me in my eating habits and lifestyle, and learn some new things on the way!
30 Day Challenge
Day 2: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In ten years. Hmm.
It’s hard to say where I see myself in ten years. Right now Edgar and I live in a state of limbo, waiting for him to graduate before moving on to the next step. For us, the next step is hopefully the military and moving around from state-to-state, country-to-country every three years. Not much is constant, and experience has proved that I will definitely not know where I’ll be just one year from now, much less ten!
But I know that in ten years, I would like to be homeschooling my kids. And possibly have a masters degree in photography.
But really, I’m okay not having everything planned out. Sure, I have short-term goals, but beyond knowing that I want to be a mom and a homeschool educator, I’m pretty fluid when it comes to anything beyond the next few years. I think it’s best that way, anyway. Makes it easier to accept God’s will when I’m not busy grasping desperately onto my own plans. 😉
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Do you have any “rules” to your diet? Any food you specifically avoid?