Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eating Right and Regularity

Warning, the following topic may gross some of you out, but I will be gentile in my phrasing.

I (Bella) have never had a problem with regularity.  I know that it is a problem for many people, and whole grains, fibre from fresh fruit and vegetables, should create a happy ending, so to speak.  After a week and a half my body has returned to normal movements.  It is something that I am not shy about talking about.  I have been dealing with more than my fair share of bodily functions for the last 3 1/2 years, thanks to Princess and Outlaw.  The increased fibre has it effects, and it took this week for my body to process the change and return my movements to a normal consistency.

Some members of my family have not always been as fortunate, Princess has on occasion been one of them.  Over the last week and a bit, she has endured a bout of constipation  Not much fun for her or us.  No one likes to see their child struggling to get a bowel movement out.  I don't really know if the dietary structure we are now following is the cause, or if it began with some innocently made homemade granola bars, or plain yoghurt which was a pro-biotic style (not recommended for a toddler, but seriously I could not find any plain yoghurt that wasn't).  We have introduced good ole fashion prune juice for Princess, and intend to provide her a 1/2 cup a day for the next week or so, fruit juice counts as a fruit/veggie serving, so I don't want to make it a regular part of her diet if I can avoid it.  We also applied some past winners in the fight against constipation, bicycle movements, belly massages, increased running and walking.

Hopefully, Princess will only deal with her constipation for a short while, and return to regular movements.  Please enjoy the granola bar recipe below, ( I found it online over a year ago, but I couldn't tell you where), it is quite good, but granola bars count as a sometimes treat in the CFG so we may not make them ourselves again until we have occasion to have a gathering of friends or family over for a visit.

½ cup butter                                      ½ cup peanut butter
1 cup honey                                       1 tsp vanilla
4 ½ cups rolled oats                         1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda                            
½ cup each dark chocolate chips, chopped mixed nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit.
¼ cup sesame seeds (for topping)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter a 9x13 inch pan.  Combine butters, honey and vanilla first.  Then add all other ingredients.  Beat hard until combined.  Stir in add-ins, press mixture into pan, really jam it in there so the bars don’t fall apart (I use a sheet of plastic wrap on top, then press with my hands).  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.  Let cool for 10 minutes, and then cut into bars. Will make anywhere from 20 to 30 depending on the size of your bars.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

In the beginning

So, here we are.

I (Phatdogg) weighed in at 200 lbs, and 6'4" tall.  about a year and a half ago my weight would have been 240lbs but I took up cycling and dropped a bit of that weight.

Having said that what I am hoping for most from following the food guide is energy at the right times (during the day) and sleep at night.  I have been told by a psychologist that I demonstrate symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder; one of which is chronic insomnia.

I expect the biggest challenge for me will be limiting the sugars, fats and high-calorie snacks that I enjoy.

Anyway, here's hoping for a better life ... starting with my diet.

The Beginning

And we're off!  As we have been already observing Canada's Food Guide (CFG) for a week, our official start today was easy as pie. (Mmm, pie).

I must say I am most interested to see how this impacts my weight.  At 5ft 7in and 195 lbs to start, that puts me 45 lbs over my ideal weight.  Maintaining food guide recommendations (FGR) will give me a healthier body, will it also provide a slimmer one?

As I have stated previously, I believe we were eating healthily: we just had much larger portions.  (Okay, maybe we indulged in empty calorie foods occasionally).  Researchers have said that over the last 40 years, portion sizes have increased significantly,  I am looking forward to this new lifestyle, which feels very familiar.  I remember our family meals growing up.  My mother would plate our food, and everyone would receive a serving of meat, veg. and potato.  In the winter, we would have some soup to start, and regardless of the season, every meal ended with a salad.  Most Europeans eat this way.  I can see the portions now, with my parents having slightly larger ones.  When did that change for me?

Our activity levels are more a focus now too.  Princess would ask me many times in the past to run with her.  I would a little bit, but sit down presently and watch her do more.  Now, I make sure I keep going, even when I don't feel totally up to it.  For not only my own good, but to set the right example for her too!

Thanks, Bella

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gastronomy - the art or science of good eating

1 Day to go until we embark on our year long culinary journey.

We have actually been living by the guide for about 6 days now.  It does take some effort to plan meals, and servings and making a real effort to cut out the "naughty" foods like sugars, fats and oils.  One thing I notice really early on is that I eat smaller amounts more frequently.  I find it easier to deal with the serving sizes and how many of those servings I can have this way. 

So for breakfast I had too slices of toast with thin scraping of non-hydrogenated margarine and some peanut butter (2 Tbsp).  I also had an orange and a plum. (2 veggie-fruit, 2 grains, 1 meat)

Then on the way to the shop (we always need more fruits, and some of the time veggies too), Princess and I (Phatdogg) shared a banana and an apple; count as 1 fruit serving each. 

For lunch I had a ham (75g), cheese (block cheddar 50g), leaf lettuce (1/4 cup) and radish (1/4 cup) with a bit of grainy mustard on two slices of whole wheat bread with a single plum prune.   Also I had 4 and a half whole wheat crackers (I put some of the cheese and ham on them).
(1 veggie-fruit, 3 grains , 1 milk and alternative, 1 meat)

I find that I am eating more raw food, and also that I am left hungry feeling a lot of the time.  I fight this hunger with water (as we are supposed to have 8 cups of water a day anyway I figure I can`t have too much).  I see a few changes in the way I think about food... I would ordinarily not notice if I missed breakfast; however, because I am always thinking about following the guide spending time making and eating food seems really insignificant.  I hope as time moves on it will become more like blinking in that I don`t have to think about it ... it will just happen in the background.

Friday, August 26, 2011

T minus 2 days or Pancake Heartbreak

With the trial period nearing an end, I feel that we've been doing a great job.  Keeping track of the measurements, weights and size portions of our meals has not been as difficult as one may imagine.

Princess and I have managed to get a start on the food guide tracker poster board, which fit nicely on the side of the fridge. A few well chosen pictures of fruit and veggies from magazines will round out the piece.  We are also heading to the local community health office to see if they have any copies of the food guide as I don't want to wait the 4 weeks to have it mailed to us.

Now I will delve into the pancake heartbreak.  I typically make pancakes once sometimes twice a week, from scratch.  It is a simply great recipe, which I will include at the end of this post.  Princess' first words this morning upon waking were "pancakes, pancakes!" Now, a pancake serving is one small pancake.  That was the good news, because after weighing one of the pancakes I normally make, it matched the 30g total, (I make them small obviously). The heartbreak is the number of pancakes we can have. Princess normally would have had 3, I and Phatdogg, would have had 4-5. As each pancake is a serving of grain, that would have maxed Princess out first thing in the morning, and would have been more than half of ours.  Not knowing this ahead of time I erred on the side of caution and made a half batch of batter; this allowed us a more reasonable amount (3 each for Phatdogg and me, 1.5 for Princess), with no leftover pancakes. We complimented our pancakes with a small drizzle of maple syrup, and a full fruit serving of an apple.

I will be honest, I LOVE pancakes, and would have liked another 3, but I also am not willing to lose out on more grain servings later in the day. That is where the key lies I believe too. Not only do you put more thought into each meal, you must think ahead to your future meals as well.

Phatdogg will have to share with you his lunch exploits, as he must take not only his lunch to work, but dinner as well.

Thanks, Bella

Simple Homemade Pancakes

1 cup flour (any kind)
1 tbsp each baking powder and sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1 egg (large)
1 tbsp oil

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Create a well in the center and pour in milk and egg. Whisk well. Add oil. At this point, you can add up to 1/4 cup more of milk or water, if you feel the batter is too thick.  It will depend on the type of flour you use and the size of the egg.  Heat up a skillet, making sure it is seasoned (an iron skillet works best when barely greased), or non stick pan. Keep the heat low, we have an electric stove and I put the heat at 4. Pan is ready when drops of water bounce on top.  Pour out 1/4 cup of the batter: wait for bubbles to form on top, than flip. The thicker the batter, the longer you should leave it on the skillet, but every stove, pan and batter are different, so it will take some time to determine which works for you. Be sure to put a small bit of butter on the pancake and some real maple syrup. Enjoy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Getting things ready ...

Well, as you can see below, I spent part of the day creating our weekly food guide logs.  This will make it easier to mark the number of servings, per day, per person.  I'll get my craft on with Princess' help, and create a wall board to put these and a few other posters up.
Health Canada's website has all the information available for download, pdf and you can order it to be mailed to you too. 
What I found today is how important a kitchen scale will be. I'll be all over a digital one if we can swing it. We have a small scale, and for cheese and meats, it will be essential.  I believe that we have been eating healthy, (not counting the occasional bag of chips or home baked  goods), but eating larger portions then we should, as discovered today when I made sausage meatballs.
I'm excited for us, and hope our visitors to this blog enjoy what we can share with you.

T minus 6 days to following the Canadian Food Guide for 1 year

This post is being written by the man of the house.  How we got to this point is a bit of a story which we are hoping to tell over the next year and a bit.  We have started to incorporate the Food Guide into our lives with conscientious effort today.  We started the day with a bit of a walk for the dog (20 minutes exercise for myself (Phatdogg), my wife (Bella), my 3 1/2 year old (Princess) and our dog (Outlaw)).  Each of us had eaten various amounts of our breakfast by that time.  Anyway, maybe Bella will have an update for the night to see how our first "test" day went.