Help me eat better

KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
After some heavy, heavy soul searching, I have come to the realization that I eat pretty bad. This is mostly due to a combination of lazyness/no cooking knowledge/increase in social life. What's particularly frustrating is that I'm pretty active which keeps me in decent shapebut I know that if I altered my diet I would see even more gains in everything.

I have no idea where to start though. Anyone have any good resources/tips? Specially for dealing with snacking at work and eating filling yet still healthy meals (I feel like the exercise I do makes me eat more than I use to).


  • badger2dbadger2d San FranciscoRegistered User regular
    What you make most easily available for yourself is often a good place to start, especially in regards to snacking. If the only snacks you have in reach are things like fruits and nuts, you'll be eating better than if you've got a bag of chips on your desk.

    In regards to meals, one of the easiest things you can do is get in the habit of eating a substantial salad as the first item of your dinner. It does a lot in regards to cutting down on how much fatty meat or pizza or creamy pasta sauce you eat when you get to the main course. Helps your digestion of those things, too.

    Blizzard: Symphony #1704
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  • ThundyrkatzThundyrkatz Registered User regular
    Take a look at your liquid calories. Do you drink a lot of soda or other sugary beverages? Can you switch to sugar free versions, or better yet water? if you drink 2 cans of soda a day, you could cut 276 calories out a day, which is easy and would actually make a big difference.

    Also, what Badger2d said, what you have available is what you eat. So, when you go to the grocery store don't buy things that are bad for you

    Lastly, don't sabotage yourself by trying to change everything overnight. try making 1 change a week.

  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    i am not a nutritionist. just someone who eats whatever he wants and has never tipped past 130lbs soaking wet.

    my random scribbled opinions:
    it's all about ingredients

    and that doesn't mean giving up all fast food and frozen food for the rest of your life. it just means balance.

    my policy is i try to eat at least five non-shit meals per week, more if financially or chronologically possible (good food takes time)

    What is a non-shit meal? Something that has at least one non-processed meat and vegetable (including potato)

    Steak, a burger made of a quality source of ground beef (aka not taco bell), a higher end italian sausage, a spaghetti with fresh vegetables mixed into the sauce

    On the vegetable side, pretty much anything steamed will do, and there's more and more research coming out that canned and frozen veggies are every damn bit as good as the off-the-vine stuff, so stock the hell up, it's cheap

    aside from that, a lot of the tasty things in life have obvious healthier alternatives that are every bit as good or better

    easy examples

    1) home prepared french fries like Ore-Ida. get the ones you bake instead of the ones you fry.

    2) ground beef. get the low fat stuff

    3) Salad, get the dark lettuce and an an oil based dressing instead of iceburg lettuce and ranch

    4) Chips, corn chips and quality salsa instead of fried chips

    you just have to follow through on it and everything you touch at the grocery store, question it.. and ask if there is a version of that that's even 5% better for you.. if so, do that, and find a way to make it tasty

  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited January 2014
    first thing: forget for a minute about eating fruit and vegetables. think about buying them. how often do you go to a supermarket or greengrocer and stock up on fresh food? you need to have it available to eat it. one of the best things is to order an assorted produce box every week. this is locale dependant, but you should be able to find something like this. for the first few rounds you'll probably fail miserably at eating everything in it before it turns sad. that's okay. you'll start to be motivated to not be wasteful, you'll accumulate cooking ideas and soon you'll be turning a cheap box of veg into a week's worth of dinner.

    in terms of what do do with it? how to prepare it? start simple. get a few cookbooks and pick out four or five recipes that you can handle, and cook them every week. soft-shell tacos / wraps with salsa and grilled meat. yum. spaghetti with a rich bolognese sauce. easy, yum. half a roast chicken, green beans and potatoes. easy. yum. corn and zucchini fritters. cheesey baked cauliflower. baked potatoes with coleslaw and sour cream. chilli beef noodles with steamed greens and oyster sauce. stacked burgers with dill pickles on grain buns. this stuff is all super easy, healthy, day-to-day stuff - the kind of meal you need to accumulate into a catalogue that you're comfortable producing.

    start simple. watch a few episodes of jamie oliver or alton brown or that aussie 'surfer' bloke for inspiration. get a cheap cookbook from a sad discount bookstore. have good produce handy, in the fridge, ready to be used. it should start to come together.

    bsjezz on
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    The thing I find easiest to handle is just making your default feeling-like-shit food less of a terrifying scourge to your body.

    I usually to get a bunch of vegetables that keep well and taste good with a bit of salt/pepper/olive oil. Then when you come home feeling terrible and not like this is a day to watch what you are eating you just go well fuck it let's roast a shitload of these vegetables it takes like 40 minutes and I don't have to do anything but chop.

    Take a moment to donate what you can to Critical Resistance and Black Lives Matter.
  • The EnderThe Ender Registered User regular
    What is your diet currently like? How much do you eat, what are you eating & what beverages do you usually drink?

    If you aren't keeping a record, try to start one.

    With Love and Courage
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    Two things helped me a lot:

    1) give up soda. Because like, holy shit that's a lot of empty bullshit to be putting in your body. Even if you replace it with something that's still of questionable nutritional value (coffee, store bought juice, whatever) you almost certainly come out ahead and if you replace it with truly benign stuff like water or tea you're really gonna see results.

    2) Snack on healthy stuff rather than chips or other junk; I mostly use baby carrots. Better for you and more filling than chips or crackers, so you wind up eating less.

    Also cooking is easy man. You can do pretty healty stir fry with a pan and whatever ingredients are handy. Lean meat and vegetables (even if it's chicken on a foreman and package veggies) practically cooks itself. Soft tacos, same thing. Another good tip is to cook 2-3 portions, so that when you get hungry and don't feel like cooking there's something nutritious available to just microwave.

  • bsjezzbsjezz Registered User regular
    edited January 2014
    also one thing i'd advise: don't get obsessed by being super healthy, to the point that your food is boring. buy full-fat yoghurt, it's delicious and can be used a million ways. get premium (wagyu? slobber) rather than lean mince. cook with stacks of olive oil, use salt liberally. use chorizos and bacon and other delicious smoked deli meats to imbue tonnes of flavour in everything you cook. if your food at home doesn't taste really good, you'll always default back to junky crap. it's enough that you're in control of what you're putting in your mouth: it's enough that it's home-made and features a rational balance of grainy carbs and proteins and stacks of veg. it doesn't actually also have to be ascetic, especially if you're not on a timeline to lose weight.

    bsjezz on
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    What do you eat that is so bad?

    As for snacking at work. Try making a cup of tea and drinking it. It's 0 calorie, not too high in caffeine, and takes quite a while to make and drink, so you feel as if you've had a break. This is easier if you are in the UK and have an electric kettle at work; it might not work for Americans!

  • DerrickDerrick Registered User regular
    I started using to track calories.

    I'd never really counted calories before. As a younger man it seemed I could eat a supply truck of Oreos and lose 10 pounds in the same week. Not so much the case these days!

    At first, I was just using it to get an idea of what my normal calorie intake is. What actually happened is that my food choices changed immediately when I saw the actual calories involved. So, I'm not doing anything crazy. I still eat the same things I always did (which, to be fair, is usually pretty healthy), I just eat a lot less of it. I don't eat when I'm bored now, which was probably my downfall before.

    So far I've lost 8 pounds in two weeks, which is really more than I was expecting. I wasn't huge to begin with, but chubbier than I would like. I've been cycling regularly since the summer, and my stamina and muscle mass had improved while my body fat stayed pretty constant. I also gave up soda last year and while I definitely lost weight, it was nothing dramatic.

    So my heartfelt advice is to look into a calorie tracker of some stripe. I use that one because my girlfriend uses it and it gives you a 5 week weight projection. One thing I didn't really think about before is that my food lasts so much longer. I'm still getting used to the little things like that, but anyway I think by straight up avoiding fad diets and eating my kind of grub that I'll stick with this for the long haul.

    Steam and CFN: Enexemander
  • Blake TBlake T Registered User regular
    Firstly. Don't class cooking at home as hard.

    Cooking is easy.

    Cooking complex things that are amazing is hard. Cooking something that is healthy and nice to eat is easy.

    Think about your meals and plan ahead. This includes snacks. If you increase your water intake during the day, you probably don't even need to snack.

    Deep down. You probably know what you should be eating. You want large amounts of non starchy vegetables, nuts and fruit. Sensible amounts of meat and small amounts of grains and starchy vegetables. You just need to think about what you are sticking in your gob.

  • CycloneRangerCycloneRanger Registered User regular
    I find it a lot easier to control what I eat at the point of purchase rather than the point of consumption. I've got a million chances throughout the week to eat something that's sitting in my apartment (which means it's going to get eaten), but I only have to decline to buy it once.

  • CreaganCreagan Registered User regular
    I've found there are two major psychological barriers between people and cooking for themselves:

    #1: Not having a dishwasher
    #2: Not understanding the basics of how to make a meal.

    I can't help you with #1, but meals are not nearly as complicated as you probably think they are. Most of the time "meals" are just different ways of combining meat, vegetables, and grains. You can literally put some meat in the oven on "broil" until it's cooked, steam some vegetables, cut a piece of bread from a loaf, put those things on a plate and have a meal. If you have equal amounts of those things, you're already doing pretty well health-wise.

    After you understand that, it's really just a matter of figuring out what kinds of meats, vegetables, and grains you prefer, and how to combine those things in a way that makes them taste good. I like cow meat, chicken, peas, broccoli, shallots, garlic, green beans, snap peas, snow peas, potatoes rice, and pasta. (That's a short list without all the expensive food I can't afford.) And there's a lot I can do with that. I could mix hamburger meat, shallots and peas, and have that on pasta. I could mix chicken, shallots, rice, and broccoli together & eat that. I could roll some boiled potatoes in chopped garlic and shallots sauteed in olive oil, and eat that alongside a steak & green beans.

    Also, when I lived 2 blocks from the grocery store, I'd buy my food the day I was going to eat it. It got me out of the apartment, and meant that I had to make conscious decisions about what I was gonna eat when. Snack-wise, I usually leave something decently healthy that I enjoy eating next to my workspace. That way it's closer than any junk food I've bought, and I'm more likely to eat healthy. (Just make sure you switch foods every now and then. One time I accidentally ate nothing but Puffed Rice all day. I felt sick for days afterwards.)

  • Zoku GojiraZoku Gojira Monster IslandRegistered User regular
    1) give up soda. Because like, holy shit that's a lot of empty bullshit to be putting in your body. Even if you replace it with something that's still of questionable nutritional value (coffee, store bought juice, whatever) you almost certainly come out ahead and if you replace it with truly benign stuff like water or tea you're really gonna see results.

    Coffee and tea are awesome. Caffeine without the calories, assuming you don't add milk, or at least not whole milk.

    Sparkling water is great if you miss the texture of a soda. Seagram's seltzer water has got me through a bout with a nasty cold, taking the place of the traditional Sprite. Perrier Lime is also quite nice. But also, plenty of water, tap water preferably, assuming you don't live in an area where it's nasty. Staying hydrated staves off the munchies because most of what a well-fed person (someone not on a bullshit fad diet) interprets as hunger pangs are actually symptoms of thirst.

    Fresh eggs, whole egg and not just the whites, are awesome, and bacon gets a bad rap. Nothing is as satisfying at breakfast time, and many things are far more fattening and unhealthy.

    Salsa is great, the chips are what kill your calorie budget. Try sliced radishes or cooked carrots in their place. Trust me on this, it's awesome.

    "Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are." - Bertolt Brecht
    PSN: ZokuGojira - Warframe, Squadrons, Pinball, and a little bit of everything
  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    Thanks guys!

    I don't think my diet is HORRIBLE but I do eat tons of processed, already made food, which is something I want to change. And snacking at work kills me. For example my food intake yesterday was:

    Breakfast: Greek yogurt
    Lunch: Foot long Turkey sub from Subway, baked chips, diet coke. (Once a week treat, Im starting to get into the the habit of taking home made salads)
    Dinner:Half of Chinese food,usual take out chinese (had a movie nights with friends). Otherwise it would have been some premade Tuna packages and rice (from the box).

    Today I did bring two pears for work to hopefully deal with any cravings.

  • wonderpugwonderpug Registered User regular
    I gained a lifechanging new understanding of my diet when I started tracking my food intake in online trackers like myfitnesspal or Daily Plate. (I started off with Daily Plate, now I prefer myfitnesspal) Even just committing to tracking calorie intake for a month or two can really open your eyes to where you're going wrong (and right) in your eating habits.

    Here are some revelations it provided me:
    • I love breakfast sandwiches with sausage, egg, and cheese on an english muffin, and I thought a wheat bagel with cream cheese would be a better alternative. Turns out my bagel breakfasts had twice the calories.
    • One of my indulgences is buffalo wings with bleu cheese. I knew it was a super high calorie indulgence, but what I didn't realize until the calorie trackers was that the bleu cheese I was eating was giving me far more fat and calorie intake than the actual wings. Just by being more sparing with the dip I could make that indulgence a good 500 calories less.
    • Liquid calories really really do add up. I knew this conceptually, but the calorie trackers really made it tangible. Now I don't think of a non-diet soda as a beverage option, I think of it as a dessert. I still let myself drink it if I want to, but it's now an intentionally choice to indulge.

    Another avenue that might help you get a better handle on this stuff is the book series Eat This, Not That. I just browsed through a friend's copy last week and it had a lot of really interesting comparisons. For instance, it might show you two subs on the Subway menu that look nearly identical, but show that one of them is counterintuitively much much healthier.

  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    for soda I will make a shameless plug

    I am a three-coke-a-day person

    however, I bought a sodastream a couple of weeks ago and it's awesome. it has substantially less sugar content than a coke, and is passable

    The cola flavor itself is nothing to write home about, store brand flavor

    However, the sprite, root beer, and orange soda are nearly perfect. I drank a whole liter of the orange stuff last night without so much as making a face, and I despise diet soda. Basically they put in 9 grams of sugar per serving and then supplement the rest with Splenda.

    Ideal? No. But if you need that taste, it's good enough.

    It's a pricy appliance though. Not worth it unless you're like me and have a household monthly soda budget that is quite high.

  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    You don't have to use the sodastream syrups that they sell. You can use a dash of lime juice and be done with it.

  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    As far as newbie cooking tips go, my sadly unfinished cooking challenge project might be a good resource for you.

  • ihmmyihmmy Registered User regular
    Making your own meals is really what will make the biggest difference. Cooking can seem scary and daunting, but it's really not that bad. Find a few recipes and techniques that aren't terrifying - stir frys are easy, you chop meat and vegetables. You fry the meat at a fairly hot temperature, add some sauce or seasoning, then add the veggies that need more cooking, then add the veggies that need less cooking. Serve on rice (get a rice cooker if you like rice, it's ridiculously easy). My lazy but-still-cooking-at-home meal is some pan fried fish (usually salmon with lemon) and a bag of those steam-in-the-bag green beans. Takes less than 20 minutes all together, tastes delicious.

    This is, by far, the best cookbook I have ever used: It looks as though there is also an introductory/basics version which I haven't used, but at a glance looks good and explains lots. Check out youtube videos for tips and tutorials on techniques you don't know - that's what I do for all my crafty nonsense that's new or weird sounding.

    Find recipes you like enough to eat more than once, and make a batch big enough to take to work for lunch or re-heat the next day. Less work, still healthy and awesome. Don't neglect the food groups... just because carbs can be super calorie-rich doesn't mean you can ignore all grains, aim to get at least some of each food group over the course of your day. If you get mid-day munchies, try some tea or water instead (or first, and wait 30min). I sometimes get afternoon hunger urges, but never on days where I'm cold enough to down an entire pot of tea.

    And don't give yourself too much trouble if you eat crappy food sometimes, or if you go over what a calorie tracker app says. No one is perfect, the goal is just to make yourself do better now than before. As long as you do that, and continue trying to eat better food more often, you're winning.

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