Food Friday: My Strategic Foods

I am a 54 year old woman with Systemic Lupus. Sounds dismal, huh ? Actually, I am healthy, working, and recreating full time. I hate to say it, but my lupus may have caused me to take better care of my health than I would have otherwise.

I am one of those people who pursues optimal health. I feel I have to, since I am obliged to set a good example for my patients, and because I have a family who relies on me. 

I can’t afford to do anything but eat optimally. I can’t afford to do anything but workout regularly. At my age, with my condition, going backwards is really hard to make up. Going forwards is extra slow, since I also cannot overdo it, so I have to make gains really gradually. 

I love good food and cooking, and I love working out and how it makes me feel and look. So these things are not hard sells for me. I try very hard to convey to my patients and readers the joys of these things, but you may certainly relate when I tell you that most people are not where they would like to be on their fitness and nutrition. So instead of me just sharing how I feel, I would like to tell you a few simple things that I do that help me keep my nutrition in line easily. This is Food Friday, and we are going to talk about my strategic foods. 

With my lifestyle, workout, goals and medical condition, I need more protein that the average 54 year old woman. To help me get that conveniently, I start every morning with about 16 ounces of skim organic lactose free milk mixed with about 2 scoops of whey protein powder. That gets me nearly 30 grams of protein, a reasonable start to the 80 grams per day that I shoot for.

At about 10 am, I make some oat bran cereal, one of my strategic carbohydrates. I include this for the fiber it provides. I take a page from the Giada DiLaurentis' playbook and dress it with about a Tablespoon of olive oil and some kosher salt. It is reminiscent of buttered popcorn. I usually have a bowl of decaf green tea matcha which is full of antioxidants. 

At lunch I usually have fish, chicken or red meat with veggies, which are usually leftovers brought from home. I try to eat lunch with water, either cold or hot. I may also have fruit. I favor blueberries and strawberries, which is good because they are nutrient dense, and low on the FODMAP scale. ( More information on FODMAPS HERE)  I bring them in a little tupperware. These generally leave home frozen and thus by lunch they are just right. 

Mid afternoon I try for some more protein with some kefir ( cultured probiotic milk) or a meat stick. Additionally, in the afternoon, I have taken to drinking a Kombucha which is a fizzy  probiotic drink. 

When I get home from work I need a little something before dinner, and it is usually a little fruit and drink. This sets me up to work out, which I do before dinner. Sometimes I or someone else starts dinner, and I work out while it is cooking. I drink sips of water all though my workout. 

Dinner is, not surprisingly, meat, fish, chicken or eggs, with vegetables and fruit. And here I use another strategic carbohydrate, brown rice. Between the fiber in that and the oatmeal, things “ go well”. Again, I drink water with the meal to aid digestion and keep me hydrated. When I am cleaning up dinner, I fix my lunch and two snacks to take to work, since I am not a morning person. I also fix my protein drink in a “ shaky” bottle so it is ready to grab in the morning. 

And though it is so trendy it is outdated, I am still crushing on kale. I eat it dried, and I eat it chopped and sautéed either in olive oil or coconut oil. I like to toss in tomatoes for color and a bright flavor. I have learned to salt and season after it is finished since it shrinks down so much. You have to start with a heaping pan full to get a couple servings. I use lemon pepper very liberally, as well as Mirin, rice wine, or rice vinegar. Balsamic vinegar also works nicely on kale. 

At bedtime I usually get a little dark chocolate. My recent favorite is a raw Mexican chocolate from Taza. It is spendy, but you only need a little bit. I also get something more to drink. 

Yes, it’s a lot of time spent, and a fair amount of preparation, but it makes me feel good and I like it. Try these strategic foods or develop your own favorites. Remember, small healthy habits, done over long periods of time, make health.