Die healthy! Watch what you eat - Elaine Froese | Canada’s Farm Whisperer | Your go-to expert for farm families who want better communication and conflict resolution to secure a successful farm transition


Die healthy! Watch what you eat

by | Apr 21, 2012 | Uncategorized

Since June 1, 2009 I have been on a wellness journey to shed 30 pounds, feel better and have more energy. I am happy to report that I feel a lot better, and look healthier, 30 pounds lighter. A lot of folks are curious about what worked for me, so here are some tips:

  1. Keep track. Everything we put in our mouths impacts our well-being. I have a food journal that records everything I eat, my water intake and the number of steps I take each day. To record the steps you need a pedometer, which you can find from running stores. The goal is to have more than 10,000 steps a day which is easy when I work out on my elliptical, and walk two miles to the corner and back. I don’t reach the goal when I sit all day in the car or at meetings.
  2. Snack consciously: I’ve cut back on baked goods, drink water, tea, and milk, and make sure I have a snack at 4 p.m. that has protein. Partly-skim cheese sticks, almond butter, hummus, Wasa Bread (like a dry cracker); almonds and hard cooked eggs are some of the snacks that help me balance the protein, carbs and fat in my diet. When I am in hotels I ask the restaurant if I can purchase a few hard cooked eggs for my snack stash. I found a dry hummus mix that is inexpensive and uses chickpeas. Keep growing those chickpeas! Have you eaten them?
  3. Weekly measurement and coaching: I joined U Weight Loss clinic (www.uweightloss.com ) in Brandon that requires weekly weigh-ins and measurements. These women have lots of helpful tips to share because they have had to lose weight too. I am a coach, and I needed a coach to report my barriers and breakthroughs. This is a life change process, not a diet. I am not getting heavier ever again! Exercise can be customized through their online programs.
  4. Breakfast smoothies: You know that a smoothie is great when your farmer husband wants one! I use 2 tsp. of flaxseed, ground in the blender, 35g of protein powder, a cup of soy milk and a handful of berries or partial banana to create a quick, filling smoothie. The protein powder from the U Weight Loss clinic is pricey, but it works. I tried the cheaper version from a bulk food store, and it was horrible. I also found a chocolate version for 1/3 the price from a grocery store that tastes fine when I need a chocolate fix. Breakfast is a very important meal, and we need to have one that holds us till noon. When I am travelling I try to have a fridge in my hotel room with a stash of plain yogurt that I can mix with the protein powder. This breakfast works a lot better for me than super sweet Danishes, donuts or muffins that you usually find at conferences. I also pack a lunch when commuting to meetings.
  5. Carry Energy bars come in all tastes, and calorie counts. Costco sells a pack of 15 bars called Detour which have great whey protein, and again, my hubby likes these, too. I take one in my purse for the times when meals are late coming, or the options for lunch don’t look that appealing. Some folks like the Life Bars at Shopper’s Drug Mart, but I prefer the Detour bars.
  6. Tea is a comfort beverage for me, and most folks would recommend green teas or de-caffeinated types. I like my Chai with Splenda ® and a bit of milk. I drink this when I am wanting a hint of sweetness without raiding the cookie jar. Water intake is important and I flavour mine with lemon slices. I have a hand-crafted bead counter (for water intake) that attaches to my jeans. This was a speaker gift from the TOPS group in Boissevain. They gave me an unusual gift of home-made baking. Why would I ask for a baking honorarium when I am focused on losing weight? I live with farm men who appreciate home baking. When I can provide them with options for dessert, and I don’t bake it myself, it reinforces the fact that we all can choose what we put in our mouths.
  7. Desserts: I choose applesauce, fresh fruit, yogurt with fruit and a dash of cinnamon, and a very small piece of matrimonial cake, or 2 prunes. Dried fruit is high in sugar, but the prune thing seems to work for me. Raisins I use sparingly (2T) in cooked oatmeal porridge, which also gets a splash of protein powder.

Other Healthy Eating Tips
Managing your glycemic index is a fancy term for keeping your blood sugars at a healthy level. My weight loss program helps me choose lower glycemic foods. If you want a really good book with colour charts get Rick Gallop’s “The G.I. Diet Clinic.” I now use liquid eggs for omelets, along with a local egg producer’s eggs. And I have discovered turkey bacon, which makes a great side to the omelets, or part of a sandwich.

Letting go of my love for dense, whole wheat bread has not been easy. I find one to two daily servings of grains about right for me. So I opt for whole wheat wraps, wild or brown rice and open face sandwiches. We are wheat growers. We also grow oats and rye. I’ve also done a lot more reading about gluten intolerance, just to find out options to serve my celiac friend. Rice crackers and quinoa are now in my pantry. If you are celiac, check out www.onlyoats.ca for gluten free oat products.

Now I need to explain why this column is called “Die Healthy”. That’s the title of a book by Lorraine Mignault for folks who are pursuing the dream of wellness and longevity. Mignault is a Home Ec. grad like I am, and I respect her research and insight but I don’t agree with everything she writes. She is not a fan of canola oil, and as a canola grower, I think it’s a great option for a healthy oil choice. Mignault’s book will get you thinking and get you eating more walnuts, good cheese, and consuming more pulses, what she calls “dry vegetables.” You can check her out at www.positivelivingessentials.com, Some of her favorite food choices would be impossible to buy at the Boissevain Coop (e.g. French Sea Salt). I encourage you to try new ideas and see what works for you. I now enjoy small amounts of butter with my food (I speak to a lot of dairy farmers) and I don’t feel guilty about it. Mignault would be happy with that choice, but she doesn’t endorse milk consumption, and that’s where I disagree with her.

Karen Graham, a dietician, has a very helpful full colour book called The Canadian Diabetes Meals for Good Health, a book with complete meal plans with actual size photographs and 100 recipes. Karen’s book is my inspiration when I need some new meal ideas. You can check out her work at www.mealsforgoodhealth.com. She is doing a great service to farmers who are on the edge of becoming diabetic, due to obesity issues. She has practical tools to make dietary changes for better health.

Eating Out
Don’t supersize me! I was eating with a farmer at Ag Days when he was presented with a bowl of chili that would have easily fed 3 people. Restaurant eating is a real challenge when the portions are way too big, and the sides are high in calories. I have learned to ask for sliced tomatoes or extra steamed vegetables. I also now eat sweet potatoes, not yams. Yes, I still eat potatoes, but not every day.

You might want to invest in a food scale to weigh out the portion size of your protein choice.

I hope that my food journey has been an encouragement to help you make great food choices. We all dream of dying of old age, not an illness. Perhaps you can share your food intake successes on my blog at www.elainefroese.com. Losing weight has been a battle for over 6 years, and I hope my diet is now changed for lasting success.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Your health is your wealth”. I’d really like to hear your food journey success stories. Be well.

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  1. maya wenger

    Dear Elaine, I came across this article from the March 1 Grainews when I was cleaning up this morning. I love improving my health, and learning how others are succeeding in their quest. You asked for some feedback, so here are some thoughts:
    A question to start off with: how do you keep track of your food/exercise when your life is so busy? How do you keep from getting obsessed with ‘keeping score’ with every mouthful you eat?
    -I like your protein/carb snack at 4 pm. What is your reason for the specific time?
    -I believe that when we go back to eating our foods as close to their original form as possible, that we are doing a lot to fight disease/aging. This would preclude the choice to purposefully limit highly processed foods and sweets. Such foods do so much damage in our bodies, and to combat that we need to add a lot more fruit & vegetable nutrition to our diets – something very difficult to do but essential.
    – On the topic of canola oil: I think it is very important to purchase high quality oil. Cheap oil is like french fries made of mashed potato flakes – so over processed it is bad for our bodies. I have found by experience that olive oil is the best for baking, as it does not leave the gummy residue that canola oil does. I actually only use oil for my home-made salad dressings and muffins…things where I dislike the flavor of olive oil. I so rarely get olive oil that isn’t rancid…a lady who owns an olive grove in Greece told me that what we purchase as ‘extra-virgin’ olive oil is already 4th press -that Greece keeps the best oil for themselves. Interesting.
    -As to milk – I grew up on a dairy farm, and believe in the health benefits of milk – in its raw, unpasteurized and unhomogenized form. Homogenization breaks the fat particles into such tiny pieces that they go through the small intestinal walls and line our arteries. This may well be in part why young children can already have the early signs of hardening of the arteries. Pasteurization changes the proteins and kills the enzymes that break down milk in our bodies. I have heard of people who are allergic to milk, who can drink raw milk without any side effects. It also makes sense when one looks at cultures like the Swiss alp cheese makers and the Nomads of Eastern Europe/North Africa who live off the raw milk from their goats and sheep.
    Thanks for your columns. I enjoy them in both the Hearts of the Country mag and Grainews.

    • Elaine

      Thanks Maya for your encouragement. The reason I eat protein at 4 is because that is when I sense my blood sugar is dropping, and a good snack holds me til supper.
      Hope all is well on your farm. Elaine

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