January 25, 2012

Beating A Sweet Addiction

Obviously addiction is not to be taken lightly. Luckily, the only addiction of my own I've ever had to deal with is an addiction to sugar. If I didn't care at all for the health of my body, I would have pancakes for breakfast, a milkshake with lunch, snack on M&Ms all day, and finish my dinner with ice cream covered in hot chocolate and caramel sauce. Mmmmmm.

However, since I want to stay under 600 lbs, avoid a face full of acne, and live past the age of 30, I don't eat like that. I do let myself have at least one sweet a day (recently it's been 1 or 2 pieces of dark chocolate with real hazelnuts), but it is a constant battle of telling myself "NO!". 

When my mom was diagnosed with pre-diabetes about a year ago, I became even more conscious of my sugar intake. I had no idea how much sugar was in EVERYTHING - from bread to cereal to alcohol. 

Since I am against any artificial sweeteners, I have had to find dessert options that include only limited amounts of sugar. This wasn't easy since by body had learned to crave sugar at the end of every meal and pretty much constantly throughout the day! (Thanks, Grandma and various older cousins... all those candies you fed me as a kid were delicious but really screwed me up over here as an adult!)

The amazing thing is that bodies can be taught and trained. Since paying more attention to how much sugar I eat, I actually crave it a little less. While I will never be able to completely cut sugar out of my diet, I have learned how to handle a lower-sugar diet. So, for you all, I have composed a list of some of my favorite low-sugar treats that pretty much satisfy my seemingly-insatiable sweet tooth. Of course, if you think you do have diabetes or pre-diabetes, see a doctor before listening to anything I or any non-doctor says. For those of you who just want to eat a bit healthier but still need something sweet each day, this is for you.

Lower-Sugar Sweet Treats:
  • Combine unsweetened dried fruits such as dried apricots, banana chips, and dried mangoes
  • Add one square inch of dark chocolate into a bowl of unflavored, unsweetened oatmeal
  • Sprinkle a few mini dark chocolate chips into a 100-calorie bag of unbuttered popcorn 
  • Cut up a fresh apple and dip into a teaspoon worth of a low-sugar cocoa-nut butter (Trader Joe's had a great chocolate almond butter and a small amount is really enough to be satisfying and still healthy)
  • Add a sprinkle of natural sugar to half a grapefruit
  • Heat a cup of hot herbal tea with a splash of natural agave
  • Freeze plain Greek yogurt for 24 hours and eat with variety of berries and bananas
  • Cut up fresh banana and dip into a melted teaspoon of dark chocolate chips
  • Melt a piece of dark chocolate into a cup of warm non-fat milk (almond milk works well, too)
Flavored Herbal Tea is a Great Way Satisfy a Sweet Tooth

 Like everything, sugar intake is about balance. I want my body to be happy and healthy. For me, happiness is chocolate and healthy is slightly less chocolate. I wouldn't say that I've overcome the addiction, but I've definitely made some changes (aka no more ice cream before bed and flavored lattes for breakfast) that have helped me keep my sugar intake under control.

What is your favorite lower-sugar dessert?


January 23, 2012

Small Ode to Grapefruit

I seriously can't get enough grapefruit lately. I get mine from Trader Joe's and they are UNREAL. Sour, sweet, juicy, and the most magnificent deep coral color. I've been having half for dinner and taking the other half to work for breakfast in the mornings (mainly because my lunch pack for work doesn't fit the entire fruit).

Not only is grapefruit delicious and gorgeous, it's so good for you. It increases your metabolism and it has a lot of water content. It has vitamin C to help ward off disease (as do most citrus fruits)... and did I mention it's delicious? Grapefruit's also very low in calories and high in antioxidants. It's been proven to lower risks of colon cancer and kidney stones. Pretty nifty, huh?

For many people, grapefruit is too sour to eat straight-up. Yes, straight-up. Some people sprinkle sugar or honey on their grapefruits, which is completely acceptable. Others make juice out of it or chop it up as part of a fruit salad. Whatever floats your boat. Just try it. You'll love it.

How do you like to eat grapefruit?


January 10, 2012

Don't Judge a Book by its Publication Date

Is it just me or have you ever felt like you were being unfairly judged because of your age? I feel like I am constantly being told that I am too young to do something I want to do or too old to act a certain way (since when is public dancing so frowned upon?!). In my opinion, age is pretty irrelevant. With age does not necessarily come wisdom or maturity. Being young doesn't necessarily mean that you're ignorant or endlessly energetic. I'm pretty sure the only guarantee with age is that the older you are the more wrinkles you have on your face, and even that can be corrected with a good hit of Botox every now and again.

Truthfully, in our current society our age determines a lot. For example, a child normally goes to school when they are 4 or 5, not when they "seem ready or able to learn". This, along with other things of course, is probably responsible for the fact that many kids have a hard time keeping up in class. In the same manner, age determines when we can drive, when we can drink, when we can work, and even what kind of insurance we get. 

The premise is that the older we are, the better decisions we make. I'm not in any way advocating handing the keys to a 5 year old, but I am saying that I have seen a few people driving in a way that is not much better than what a pre-schooler could muster up from sitting on top of a stack of books on the driver's seat.

Having been recently initiated myself into the 21+ group, I thought that the seemingly endless wait for 21 would be the last time that age was an issue. If I can go into any bar I want, I can do anything I want... right? Wrong. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Now that no doors are closed to me by the law, it means that I have to close them myself. I have to choose if I want to "act 21" and go out all the time and celebrate legal debauchery or if I want to go to bed early and be rested for work tomorrow like most working-age people do.
I am too young to be married, too young to have kids (as you can see from this blog, that is something I think about a lot and really the time in my life I'm most excited about), and too young to know what life is meant to be about. I am too old, however, to be carefree and think about the future in a "whatever happens, happens" kinda way. In essence, I'm too young to be taken seriously but too old to not care about being taken seriously. It's true, and it's awkward.

Sometimes age can be an advantage, too - especially youth. I would be lying if I said that I never used the fact that I am young in order to get a favor or get out of an awkward situation by "playing arrogant" (that sounds better than playing dumb, right?). Sometimes I like that I have this tool, but often I am offended when I am treated this way. I'm pretty smart. I did my homework for 16 years and kept my eyes and ears open in between assignments. So, yes, I do know what you mean by "budgeting" or "strategizing".

Does everyone feel like this at 21? I don't know. I think that compared to many of my peers I'm a bit calm and pretty focused on the later rather than the now. I try really hard, I'm a fast learner, and, even though I have the spirit of a giddy 6 year old girl, I want to be known more for my brains and my ideas than my wrinkle-free skin and perky 21-year-old boobs. But you wouldn't know that by looking at my ID.

Have you ever felt unfairly judged because of your age? Do you use your age to your advantage in any way?


January 9, 2012

Everything in Moderation

First Shock Top of the New Year!
Like most of the population, I'm starting the new year with a resolution to tweak my eating habits to include more healthful food and increase my weekly workout to be,well, more than once weekly. It's hard though sometimes to remember that, as my boyfriend likes to say, any lifestyle change is a "marathon not a sprint". 

The truth is, going on a strict, restrictive diet or working out until you puke every day is not healthy and is hard to maintain. Plus, everyone needs a little chocolate or a whole night spent vegging on the couch now and then. It's good for the soul.

Beyond food and exercise, I believe that people should strive for balance and moderation when it comes to work, socializing, and having time alone. Now, here comes the tricky part. Once balance is achieved, it may mean that you are not "The Best" at any one thing. No, you cannot be the most successful business woman in the world, the fastest marathon runner, and the life of every party. 

You can, however, work your hardest to have a fulfilling career, work out regularly to stay in shape, look good, and be able to handle challenges, and still enjoy a nice cold beer on New Years Eve... and maybe a few other times throughout the year. This may be controversial, and maybe not everyone would think that this is the best way to go through life. Some people might even call it "settling". But for me it seems to be the best way to enjoy a little of everything in this one short life that we have.

No, I haven't gotten quite to the perfect balance yet, but my resolution for the New Year is to increase my fitness level, eat a little healthier, and try and figure out what to do with the next chapters of my life.

How do you find balance? What are your New Years resolutions?


January 7, 2012

Two Thousand and Twelve

source: Tigermag.com
Happy New Year! It's been two days since I got back from the most amazing trip to New York and Boston, and I'm already missing it terribly. I saw all the sights, including Times Square Ball Drop (I'll show some of my own pictures later once I get around to unpacking!), walked through all the beautifully lighted streets, and most wonderfully ate ALL the food. 

What makes the food in New York so good? Why are slices of pizza, bowls of pasta, and fresh sandwiches even more delicious on the east coast? While I ponder this, unpack, and get ready to start work and keep posting longer and more interesting posts than this, here is a non-inclusive list of some of the most delicious things I ate and drank on my trip. Many, many pictures to come. 

  • Fresh pretzel with olives and feta cheese
  • Pizza with crumbed chicken and broccoli
  • Mediterranean grilled cheese with feta cheese, tomato, and basil
  • Clam chowder in a bread bowl
  • Lamb meatballs with yogurt and cucumber
  • Blueberry Beer
  • Mixed drink made from vodka and ginger beer
  • Cranberry sangria

What was the best thing you ate over the holiday break?!