It's true. My day comes to a screeching halt if I don't get some breakfast in my stomach before I tackle the big bad world. Believe me, I've tried it. A nice hot cup of tea or coffee oughta get me through 'til lunch, right? Not so much. Don't even try to talk to me at 11am. The dragon in me starts breathing fire. So, I've learned that there better be some filler in my gullet before I attempt #adulting. But here's the tricky part. I eat to fuel my body for the long haul of life, but I also eat for pleasure. Eating is like my favorite hobby. It's a hobby that has taken me down some dark treacherous roads filled with donuts, 32 ounce sodas, French fries, multiple bowls of Captain Crunch cereal, and pints upon pints of Ben and Jerry's (to name a few and in no particular order.)
So like many of my fellow human beings, I vowed to change my ways, try and avoid a long list of possible ailments, and hopefully feel great along the way. But we all know it's a struggle. Sometimes our "healthy choices" just don't get our taste buds excited. We do pretty well for a while, but we eventually end up on the couch again with our favorite buddies (see the above list of usual suspects.)
The solution for me has been to adapt the foods I enjoy. I explored the market, and the cookbook, and slowly replaced my "go to" foods with healthier options. I started looking at my plate of food as an opportunity to add a variety of nutrients, while still not sacrificing the enjoyment that I get from consuming delicious and diverse flavors. Let's explore one example. One of my breakfast staples has traditionally been a nice toasted everything bagel from the deli, spread with butter and topped with tomato, onion, and salmon. I loved the textures, tastes, and garlicy goodness. Fast forward to the "now," and I'm eating a plant based diet. So, here's what that meal looks like now. I toast a Dave's Killer Bread whole grain English muffin, spread it with avocado or hummus, add some arugula and spinach, and then top it with tomato, onion, and salt-free everything bagel seasoning. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
If we breakdown this breakfast, each element has a purpose or benefit. The English muffins contain 3g of dietary fiber each, which is about three times as much as a slice of white bread. The avocado offers a great source of healthy fat, where as the hummus adds approximately 1g of protein for each tablespoon. Superfood arugula is a great source of anti-oxidants and has been shown to positively effect heart health, bone health, and reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Moving on to the tomatoes, they are a great source of lycopene (the red pigment,) which studies suggest may be helpful in the prevention of certain cancers. As far the onion, well it just makes everything taste better!
Now, the point of this is not for you to eat what I eat. But I want to encourage you to look at your plate, including some of your favorite "go to" foods, and imagine how you might adapt and alter them to be more nutritious. Maybe substitute that white rice for brown, or replace the iceberg lettuce with some dark leafy greens. Perhaps think about replacing your choice of meat (if you're not vegetarian or vegan) with a soy-based alternative, or a nice bowl of lentils. More and more you can find all kinds of alternative vegan and vegetarian foods at the supermarket, including the ice cream freezer. (Better yet, invest in an ice cream maker, I know I did!) Each little change could add up to a better quality of life without sacrificing the flavors you enjoy, while still allowing you to reach your health goals. On that note, always keep your cupboard and fridge full of spices, sauces, and condiments to keep things interesting! Hmmm, sounds like a topic for my next blog post. Now, get cooking, and don't be shy. Let me know what you've been cooking so I can try it too!