The Sweet Fit Vegan

My adventure's in transforming me from top to bottom, inside and out.

Relaxing Vacation is Stressful to Plan

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Planning a vacation can be a relaxing and even a fun event.  Where should we go?  What should we do? Where do we stay? How long do we stay? Do we ever come back? (Ok, so we all end up coming back) But what many people don’t need to do is plan where they eat! This is the part of of planning a vacation that is stressful for many food allergy parents (my daughter has peanut and tree nut allergies for those who weren’t aware) and vegan alike.  Vegans, I like to believe, have it a little easier.  There are a few smart phone apps that can tell you based on your location where a veg-friendly restaurant is.  (Happy Cow is GREAT!) Sadly, they haven’t made one for Food Allergies yes (would someone get on that please!)

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So, planning a vacation for our family requires a few months work.  Obviously, start with where we’re going and what we’ll do.  After we’ve got a list of the place we wish to visit, we find a hotel in relatively close vicinity to the attractions (we like to be able to walk to our destinations!).  After that, we figure out food.  Why is food last?  Because no matter what we do or where we stay, if we don’t find somewhere to eat, we can still always bring our own food.  Not exactly ideal on a relaxing vacation, but we’re not going to starve, now are we? So, we visit Facebook groups related to our dietary restrictions – and trust me there are food allergy and vegan groups for all major cities out there.  I trust a persons review and recommendation over a website quote any day!

So our vacation we’re planning, I’ve managed to find  a few vegan/ veg friendly restaurants within a few miles of our “Fun Zone”, now comes the process of emailing or calling the restaurant and discussing both vegan options and peanut cross contamination!

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Unfortunatly, many vegans rely on the protein from peanuts and nuts in their diet, so this can be a troublesome task.  Luckily, we’ve found a few spots to try, and again, if there is some doubt, we always have food for our daughter with us!  We’ve always got a loaf of bread and grape jelly on hand, along with some crackers and fruit!

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If you are a new food allergy parent or a new vegan, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to research and talk to people.  Get on a local group and find out if someone has traveled to where you’re headed and if they can recommend!  Go on Google and search for reviews.  The internet is a magical thing that can make our life easy.  Would it be great if we could just up and go- sure it would.  But an easy life doesn’t teach us how to be stronger for what we need to be!  Since being a food allergy parent requires you to know a lot more than you ever thought you would (did you ever think you’d be able to diagnose hives vs. eczema before?), be strong not only for you  but you’re little one also, and be able to switch out some of your favorite foods?  Bet you didn’t- but we are all stronger for it!  You’re children rely on you everyday, but your FA one just a little extra- so know where to look and what to ask!

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The Sweet Sweetness of Sugar

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Full disclosure: I’m a hound for a good documentary.  Especially if it’s about food.  So, the other evening I sat down and watched Fed Up, the recently released documentary about how sugar plays a roll in obesity.  Let me say: really scary!  I feel like the government’s (lack of) regulations, is out to kill it’s own citizens. I was actually angry by the time I was done watching it.  Since then, I’ve been looking at EVERY label I have and EVERY label at the grocery store.  Some things have actually shocked me!

Obviously today I’m going to preach how watching your sugar intake can help manage your weight.  I’m going to refer back to this documentary (that’s how informative it was).  It focused on obese children- huge target market for candy, cereal, and junk food candies.  “Put a cartoon character on it, they’ll beg their parents to buy it”.  So, I’m thinking, the more boring the box looks, the healthier it is. I’ll let you know if that tends to be true or not!  So, these parents had been informed by their children’s doctor that they were overweight or obese, and needed to start watching what they fed them.  Most of them went out and ended up buying the “healthier” version of the kids’ favorite snacks.  You know- the ‘low calorie’ or ‘fat free’ version of the cookies and crackers.  The ‘healthy’ sugar coated cereal because it was ‘packed with fiber’.  In the end- they aren’t healthier.  They may have lower fat, but they still have extra added sugar.  The sugar is what needs to be watched!

So, we’ve been on a mission to drastically reduce our sugar intake in our home.  We went to Target the other day for a few food items, one of them was crackers.  You know- good old, crackers you throw some cheese on as a snack or crumble up in chili or soup.  Personally, I had just purchased a new tub of hummus, and needed some yummy dippers!  So, I grabbed my usual box (Ritz Whole Wheat), and there it was: added sugar!  WAIT… in CRACKERS?  Salty crackers….had sugar?  Um… ok.  So, next I grabbed Wheat Thins.  Again- added sugar!  Geesh…. Ok, let’s try Triscuits.  Those are horribly full of fiber and wheat and (personally I think they taste horrible).  You guessed it!  Added sugar!  The only brand I found without sugar was a Premium brand Rounds whole wheat.  (They make the old fashioned, been around for 75 years Saltine crackers!)  In my opinion, they don’t really blend well with red pepper hummus!

So, last night we had to make a run to our local grocery store, Wegmans.  I decided that I couldn’t justify wasting my tub of hummus, so I decided to grab my regular Ritz crackers.  Even if it’s my last box EVER… I’ll burn it off in a workout later!  So I came to the conclusion, unless you eat nothing  but fruits, vegetables, and unprocessed meats, you’re bound to run into a few Nutrition Labels.  So, knowing how to read them, knowing what to watch and track in your daily diet is important.

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To really abide by a nutrition label, you have to be counting EVERYTHING!  Calories, serving size, and daily percentages just to name a few things!  What I found interesting (learning in the Doc) was the companies are not required to put a Daily % for sugar.  According to the AHA (American Heart Association), men should have 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons daily, and women should have 25 grams or 6 teaspoons daily.  The only thing I can say, is if you look at the ingredients and sugar is one of the first 7 ingredients- don’t get it!  Items shouldn’t contain more sugar than most anything else.  The following is a great chart to check out to see how much of what you should be consuming from your food!
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Obviously, much like any other addiction (and trust me unless you are a 100% clean eater, you eat processed food and that food as sugar, and that food has you hooked!), it’s difficult to just quit it cold turkey.  ( I honestly don’t know how I quit smoking cold turkey, but I did!) So, if you’re going to decide to minimize your sugar, which I’ll suggest to everyone, start small.  Change a meal at a time and a day at a time.  Something else you should know, is what sugar is called.  Sugar comes in many forms and with many different names.  Below shows you just how many different forms sugar comes in!

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Live Healthy, Be Happy

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Real Food is the Best Kind of Food!

eat-clean I want you to go to your cupboard, open it up, grab your FAVORITE snack and read the ingredients.  How many are there? Are there some you can’t pronounce, or never heard of?  If so- chances are you don’t need it.  Chances are it isn’t “Clean”! Chances are, you could (and probably should) throw it away, never eat it again and feel FANTASTIC!  So do that- just chuck it in the trash!  Don’t worry about the price- you’ll probably make up for it in medications and doctors bills! We’ve all heard the term “Clean Eating”, but do we really know what it is?  I thought I did.  Pre-vegan, I always thought my meals were super healthy (with the occasional Oreo binge).  But chances are pretty high you’re not eating as clean as you think you are!  Take breakfast- what’s your go to?  Cereal?  Waffles with syrup?  Oatmeal even?  How about lunch?  Jelly sandwich and potato chips is a tasty go-to. Even a lunch meat sandwich.  Dinner should be easy, right?  Shake ‘n Bake chicken, some Rice a Roni or spaghetti with sauce? Wanna know a secret?  NONE of those meals are clean!  Scary, huh?  All of those are somewhat filling, they taste good, and should make up the balanced part of your diet! clean-eating-guidelines Clean eating focuses on a number of things, but over a 3 day period, you can clean it up more than you know!  Start, with water!  LOTS of water!  It’s recommended that you drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water EACH DAY!  Are you drinking what you should?  If you’re 140 lbs, you should be drinking 70 ounces over the course of your day  I suggest drinking an 8 ounce glass first thing in the morning.  If your a coffee drinker, chug that bad boy while your coffee is brewing, or your tea is steeping. I don’t generally keep track of how many ounces I drink, I just drink water all day from a very handy water bottle I picked up on sale for $3.99 at Wegmans. You can pick up a very basic water bottle at your local Dollar General/ Dollar Store.  Or you can go high end and pick up a $15 glass one at a department store- whatever your choice, grab something!  At LEAST 20 ounces… and drink 3 of those a day!  That should pretty much cover your requirements! Not much into that plain water taste?  Throw in some lemon, orange, lime or strawberry slices.  It’s not for me- but hey, whatever gets you to drink that water! fb-uhr-infographics-morningwater Next stop on the Clean Eating train is Sugar!  Oooooh- that mouth watering sweetness that makes everything taste better!  I’m  not going to say you have to cut it out completely, though it is suggested, I am guilty of a teaspoon of sugar in my morning coffee.  Some things you just have to have- but cut the rest!  You don’t need sugar on your cereal, or poured over that bowl of strawberries!  Just go without!  You’re body will thank you! And if you think sugar replacements are an easy fix- think again.  They are so much worse than regular sugar!  On top of that- they’re mostly chemicals your body doesn’t really need!  You’ll also want to make sure when grocery shopping that you’re not getting foods with added sugar- especially High Fructose Corn Syrup!  How I hate that stuff!  I recently saw a news clip that announced HFCS contains levels of mercury.  (See video Here ) Yup- that stuff in fish your doctors always warned you about, is in that fake sugar that’s packed into all those yummy foods we eat! Moving right along to processed foods… either give them to a neighbor or throw them out all together so you aren’t tempted to have a quick and easy go to meal.  My greatest example is chicken patties.   My husband and son LOVE these!  They’re easy, ready in 20 minutes (already precooked too) and you can do A LOT with them.  Salads, chicken sandwiches, stir fry, you name it!  Anything you can do with breaded chicken breast, you can do with a chicken patty!  But they’re processed!  When foods are processed, they are done so at high heat that takes away all the health benefits, vitamins and minerals that your body needs!  If you’re making chicken breast for dinner, make two- store one in the fridge for lunch later in the week.  Along the same lines, lets talk about dinner sides. Rice A Roni for instance- just don’t!  Throw it away.  Chances are it cost less than $1.49 and you can handle letting it go.  Aim for plain brown rice (not white…that stuff is bleached!).  Need flavor?  Create one of your own- crush up some herbs that are sitting in your pantry.  You would be AMAZED at the flavors you can create!  The other day, I melted butter with minced garlic, crushed rosemary and thyme, and a little bit of parsley.  Doesn’t sound like much- but the flavor was PERFECT for that meal!  And I didn’t have any leftovers to store either! Let’s talk bread- it’s a touchy subject.  There are “Anti Gluten” campaigns out there, “Carb-Free” diets that promise you’ll lose weight.  I have to say this:  Unless you suffer from Celiac or severe gluten intolerance, there is no reason to stay away from grains, carbohydrates, etc.  (Make sure you’re not getting the sugar laden bagels!) However, you do want to 1. Limit how much your eating and 2. Making sure they aren’t refined grains.  Refined grains are like processed food- there’s little to know health benefits in them.  Whole grains or Multi grain is what you should be eating. Grains The next part may be hard for some of you- it was definitely hard for me.  Instead of eating what people call “3 Square Meals a Day”, you want to eat 5-6 small meals, about 2-3 hours apart.  This way, you’re getting all the foods you need, but you’re not filling up at one time!  Trust me- it’s so much better doing it that way!  You might find it difficult to do with your job, but the only thing I ask is that you TRY!  Pre pack your meals in small tupperware containers.  Baggy up those snacks and hide in a closet to eat if you have to.  Do what you must to get those smaller meals in! Foods-Clean-Eating-Shopping-List Most of all- you want to make sure you’re getting MORE (yes, more than what you already eat) fruits and vegetables!  If you need to, double up on that broccoli and cut that chicken breast in half.  (Forget about the dinner roll… unless you made them from scratch!) We all know the deal- eat your fruits and vegetables.  But those are the 2 groups that are MOST CLEAN!  Get them from your produce department.  If this means you have to make a 2nd trip to the grocery store half way through your week, then do it!  Aim for fresh over frozen! clean4 I’m sharing this now so that you can prepare a number of things before the challenge starts next Monday (Lotus’ 3 Day Clean Eating Challenge Group that starts 1/26/15 for those of you interested).  First your shopping list- replace those processed foods for clean.  Second yourself.  You may read this and think “Seriously?  I can’t do that!”  Trust me when I say- you CAN!  Most of all you SHOULD!  Doubt is the reason we don’t accomplish our goals.  Please don’t doubt yourself, your abilities to control what you put in your body!  After 3 days of not eating the stuff you have been for years, if not decades, you’re body will thank you.  You should have more energy, joints and muscles should feel better, less headaches if you’ve suffered from them.  Getting rid of the garbage that dominates the food in our kitchen is key! 125-Whole-Foods1 Keep your head up, stay strong and determined!  Thanks for tuning in… look for more later this week, and I look forward to see and hearing about your results! Live Healthy, Be Happy!

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